Updating the FloraBank Guidelines for best practice native seed collection and use
Seeds of native plants are needed to restore ecological communities that have been degraded and are unable to recover on their own.
These communities may have been adversely affected by too frequent fires, invasive species or overgrazing, or have been completely cleared, such as former agricultural fields or mine sites. But, restoration using seed is not always successful.
The FloraBank Guidelines were published in 1999 to guide seed-based restoration. The FloraBank partners were Greening Australia, CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products through the Australian Tree Seed Centre, and the Australian National Botanic Gardens, and FloraBank was funded by Bushcare – a program of the Commonwealth Government’s Natural Heritage Trust.
Since the first edition of the Guidelines, 20 years of practical experience and research has led to new information about seed storage and propagation, advances in technology and equipment, and increased understanding about provenance.
Hence, an update of the FloraBank Guidelines is much needed to guide the industry. In 2019, the NSW Government, through its Environmental Trust funded the Healthy Seeds project, which includes updating the Guidelines.
The update process is well and truly underway, with a Project Manager, Dr Lucy Commander, appointed. This process involves forming a reference group, deciding on the list of modules, inviting authors, drafting each module, sending the modules out for peer review, incorporating the reviewers comments, doing the final layout with a graphic designer, organising a launch and then running workshops to communicate the content.
Listen to Lucy Commander’s presentation here on the update of the Florabank Guidelines (which was to be presented at the postponed Australasian Seed Science Conference in Canberra in April 2020).
The modules follow each aspect of the seed supply chain, from seed sourcing to collection, production areas, processing cleaning and extraction; drying and storage; quality testing; germination and dormancy; enhancement technologies; nursery propagation; direct seeding. In addition, modules on indigenous knowledge; records and databases; policy and licensing; and tips for buying and selling seed support each step in the supply chain.
All those involved in any aspect of seed based restoration, from licencing and policy, collection and testing, seeding and planting, to research and conservation are encouraged to read the updated guidelines. They will be made available online for free download after the launch, at this stage scheduled for 2021.
The FloraBank Guidelines focuses on seed use in restoration, which compliments the Translocation Guidelines, which focuses on threatened species, and the Germplasm Guidelines, which focuses on ex situ conservation.
The ANPC wishes to thank the consortium of partners involved in the project, all those who have volunteered their time to provide input into the FloraBank Guidelines.
The FloraBank Guidelines update is an outcome of the Healthy Seeds Project
You may also be interested in reading:
Restoration Seed Ecology with Dr Lucy Commander – Steam Powered;
Podcast: Farming wildflowers; the future of restoration and native seed;
Dr Paul Gibson-Roy talks about seed supply for restoration projects;
ANPC’s Australian Native Seed Survey Report released;
Bushfires resources page