Select Page

Seeds for the Future: a one day Forum held 8 October 2019


Whether you’re involved in planting 20 trees in a fragmented urban remnant or 2 million for a biodiversity offset, having access to a sufficient quantity of high-quality seed, from a broad range of species, is essential for restoring ecosystems that are healthy and resilient over the long-term. Given development pressures, climate change and declining space for connectivity across the Greater Sydney Basin and beyond, there is an increasing need for restorationists, plant producers and landscape architects to collaborate on ensuring natives of the correct provenance and genetics are conserved as well as planted within urban spaces. The Seeds for the Future Forum, held at the Teachers Federation Conference Centre in Sydney brought together people from the bush regeneration, revegetation, nursery and landscape architecture sectors to set the scene for future collaborations and introduce the ‘Healthy Seeds’ project that is poised to offer practical solutions for all players. The one-day forum included in-depth discussion topics and a showcase of practical case studies that provided background, identified issues and suggested solutions. The forum was structured to ensure optimum delegate participation by including deliberation time at the end of each session, which informed an expert plenary panel to draw together the delegates concerns and create a roadmap to guide future strategies and investment across the Greater Sydney area.

Session 1 – Setting the Scene

The keynote was delivered by Ascelin Gordon – RMIT University  

‘Restoration in the context of Offsetting’. Using examples from the restoration of Cumberland Plain Woodland, Ascelin discussed the uncertainties involved in restoration, and what this could mean in terms of offsetting, multipliers, and the scale required to produce resilient offsetting outcomes.

The thought provokers were:

  • Tein McDonald – Australian Association of Bush Regenerators
    Greater Sydney or Lesser Sydney? – Putting restoration principles and standards into practice.– Sydney can be celebrated for its bushland – but to keep it requires ongoing conservation management assisted by (not replaced by) restoration. Considering the National Restoration Standards, Tein asked do we have the wherewithal to plan and implement the necessary restoration?
  • The ANPC’s Healthy Seeds Project Manager, Martin Driver

    Martin Driver – Australian Network for Plant Conservation 
    Healthy Seeds – What’s needed? The current barriers and future opportunities – This presentation outlined the Healthy Seeds project,  confirmed the relevance of the Australian Native Seed Industry Survey findings  and explored other issues that need to be addressed. From this and an extensive audit of the seed supply chain across NSW it is hoped to establish a Roadmap to assist in outlining how these issues can be addressed to improve the practice and supply of native seed in NSW.

  • Paul Gibson-Roy – Healthy Seeds Reference Group The National Seed Survey findings – aspirations v’s reality are the issues relevant to Sydney– Primary findings from the ANPC Australian Native Seed Industry Survey were launched at this Forum. Results from this sector-wide survey provide a current snap shot of sector practice as well as concerns and issues which act as barriers to effective and efficient native seed supply across the country.

Session 2 – Putting theory into practice – Western Sydney example

  • Greg Steenbeeke – Dept Planning Infrastructure Environment
    Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan – DPIE is developing a Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan (thePlan) that aims to improve the functionality and connectedness of the fragmented Cumberland subregion ecosystems in Western Sydney in the context of urban and infrastructure development.  The Plan will seek to protect viable existing vegetation, and use ecological restoration in degraded habitats to improve viability and connectivity.  The restoration would require seed stock for ground cover, shrubs, and trees. DPIE is considering how best to ensure supply of seed and tube stock in suitable quantity and diversity to deliver project outcomes.
  • Sam Craigie – Greening Australia
    Seed supply success and challenges – Experiences from the practical application of restoration by direct seeding on the Cumberland Plain. What makes it possible, what can be achieved and what are the challenges? There are a range of issues we need to address together to actively manage the threat of local biodiversity loss

Session 3 – Getting creative with seed supply

After lunch a series of short & snappy speed talks provided food for thought on how local government, not-for-profits, Local Land Services and DPIE have been addressing seed production and supply to ensure resilience in remnants and connectivity across the landscape

The on-ground gurus were:

  • Maree Whelan – Greater Sydney Local Land Services
    Volunteering for growth – Landcare volunteers play an important role in the area of seed collection and propagation in patches of remnant bush throughout Greater Sydney.  This presentation provided a snapshot of volunteers doing their bit in the space and covered the key opportunities and challenges facing these groups.
  • Katie Littlejohn – NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
    Reaching for the sky at Schyeville – How a local project can dovetail into regional design for Greater Sydney – Many of the plant communities we manage are in varying stages of condition. For these to survive into the future will require sometimes significant intervention. What this restoration looks like needs some creative thinking and so far we have had some promising results and a few failures.
  • Michael Kneipp – Northern Beaches Council
    Wildflowers Across the Northern Beaches– Northern Beaches Council’s ‘Wildflowers Across the Northern Beaches’ project is developing a seed production area within the community nursery at Curl Curl to supply seed and plants to produce high visual amenity wildflower hotspots. Bush and urban-care programs will also be the recipients of the seed and plants produced to increase native diversity throughout the municipality.
  • John Blair – Faculty of Built Environment, UNSW
    Can ESBS be installed on green roofs? – With space for ecosystems limited in cities – is there potential for green roofs to be developed to supplement conservation? This potential research project will be trialing a number of species on a roof on University of NSW campus, obtaining genetic stock from Randwick Council’s community nursery.

The Expert panel & Plenary

Fully charged with information and ideas, the highlight of the forum was the expert panel plenary discussion exploring the implications for practitioners, identifying the barriers and opportunities for achieving a reliable, genetically appropriate seed supply and assessing the costs and benefits of different interventions and developing a roadmap for the future

Panellists were selected from the speakers and included industry representatives –

  • Tim Berryman – Cumberland Plain Seeds
  • Peter Cuneo – Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

The Sponsors

Thank you to the sponsors who made this event possible.

Gold Sponsor : Toolijooa Environmental Restoration,

Silver Sponsors : Greening AustraliaGreater Sydney Landcare Network

Bronze Sponsors : ArborgreenAll Stake SupplyApunga Ecological Management,  Garden City Plastics,  BARRC

This event was co-hosted by the ANPC and the Australian Association for Bush Regenerators (AABR), assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust.