Native seed for restoration: a discussion of key issues using examples from the flora of southern Australia Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Land clearing across southern Australia since European settlement has fundamentally changed the amount and distribution of native vegetation; it has also substantially reduced genetic diversity in plant species throughout Australia, especially in agricultural regions. The most recent State of the Environment report indicates that Australian biodiversity continues to decline. Many approaches to restoration are used in Australia including re-establishing plant populations using tube stock or by direct seeding. Native seed for these projects is often assumed to be plentiful and available for the majority of species we wish to restore but these assumptions are rarely true. We also rely on a small number of species for the majority of restoration projects despite the vast number of species required to fully restore complex plant communities. The majority of seed for restoration is still primarily collected from native vegetation despite longstanding concerns regarding the sustainability of this practice and the globally recognised impacts of vegetation fragmentation on seed production and genetic diversity. Climate change is also expected to challenge seed production as temperatures rise and water availability becomes more limited; changes to current planting practices may also be required. Until now native seed collection has relied on market forces to build a strong and efficient industry sector, but in reality the Australian native seed market is primarily driven by Federal, State and Territory funding. In addition, unlike other seed-based agri-businesses native seed collection lacks national industry standards. A new approach is required to support development of the native seed collection and use sector into an innovative industry.

publication date

  • 2017

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