With nearly two thirds of the world’s ecosystems classified as degraded, restoration efforts rely heavily on large quantities of wild-collected seed, which require significant collection effort and place extra pressure on seed donor systems. In the western United States, where uncharacteristically large and frequent wildfires are becoming increasingly more prevalent, obtaining adequate quantities of seed for a multitude of species on a short timescale can be challenging – particularly in big fire years. Seed supply is often limited by species availability, especially as wildfire locations and extent are not predictable and most occur after the harvest period for many plant species. This is especially true for herbaceous forbs and shrubs that have only recently become the focus of many restoration efforts in the Inter-mountain region of the western United States, prompted by the growing awareness of the critical ecological function they provide, such as habitat and food resources for invertebrate, bird, and mammal species.
Botanists around the world are in a race against time to preserve native seeds and food crop seeds. They are saving the seeds for future research, to adapt to climate change, revegetate the landscape and find answers to plant diseases. Following the Native Seed Science Forum held at the Australian Botanic Garden in Mt Annan, NSW last month, this article features a brief description of the work being conducted in seed banks around the world. Dr. Christina Walters, researcher at the Agriculture Research Service National Centre for Genetic Resources Preservation, the seed bank of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) talks about her research to better understand how seeds of a diversity of crops can be stored to maintain their viability over many decades. Dr. Peter Cuneo, Manager of Natural Heritage Program, highlights the extensive efforts of the Australian Botanic Gardens Seed Vault to conserve native floral diversity through seed banking.
The Society for Ecological Restoration is delighted to announce the launch of the International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR), our newest thematic section. INSR links practitioners, scientists, communities, governments and industries who use seed-based techniques for ecological restoration and rehabilitation. With an interactive web page and development of discussion forums between seed-based restoration ecologists around the world, the network offers an important and valuable new forum to SER.
Please join us us in welcoming INSR's inaugural board members:
- Board Chair: Kingsley Dixon
- Chair Elect, Rob Fiegener
- Director at Large, Nancy Shaw
- Director at Large, Olga Kildisheva
- Secretary, Stephanie Frischie
Dixon, in-coming board chair and leader of the new Network noted "Smarter use of native seed is one of the most important ways we are going to tackle the global scale in ecological restoration and I am delighted that the foundation Board comprises people at the cutting edge of seed science and practice. Importantly INSR is there as the expert panel through its global membership to assist with advice on restoration following environmental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Japan's Fukushima Hamadōri earthquake and catastrophic wildfires in the Russian Far East."
Society for Ecological Restoration
Dear Future Member of INSR
Great news - today, the Board of SER unanimously passed the motion to create INSR.
INSR now exists as the newest Section of SER and we can commence planning the Network’s activities. Here's the link to the SER news announcing the creation of the Network.
Firstly we would like to thank all of you who contributed to the planning meetings, attendance at Manchester and assistance with our articles of incorporation. Clearly the professionalism you all showed and the passion and drive to have a network of global seed practitioners and scientists convinced the Board of the future value of INSR. A particular thanks to the interim Board of INSR who have worked tirelessly on getting the Network to this stage.
Next steps: to formalise the Board of Management and commence planning. Dates and timelines to be sent through shortly.
Kingsley, Olga and Simone
Could a new generation of autonomous "dendrones" spot seed trees and transmit their GPS co-ordinates to seed collectors? Or could they collect seeds themselves with robotic arms? How about aerial seeding by drones or even auto-weeding? Could drones be programmed to spray a non-residual, systemic herbicide on weeds, without harming young trees?
Those and other cutting-edge technological solutions will be presented by a panel of expert and their possible employment for forest restoration will be evaluated during the first workshop on Automated Forest Restoration that will take place in Chiang Mai (North Thailand). The event is hosted by the Forest Restoration Research Unit (FORRU-CMU) of the Science Faculty of the University of Chiang Mai, who carry out research to develop efficient methods to restore tropical forest ecosystems for biodiversity conservation, environmental protection and carbon storage.
For more information visit the website