A discussion of the findings from the 2020 Australian Native Seed Report

Dr. Paul Gibson-Roy

Publication Date:

High quality seed from a range of native species is the foundation for restoring Australia’s many fragmented and degraded native landscapes (even more so in the light of catastrophic bushfires of the summer 2019/20). Yet, for many years, there have been concerns raised within the native seed sector about the need for a transition from one that is essentially a disparate, poorly supported or capitalised cottage-industry to a forward-focussed, structurally sound and cohesive restoration-supporting industry – a evolution that is required if it is to meet the many challenges facing ecological restoration in Australia. In the past there have been many more unknowns than knowns about the native seed sector and providing solutions to its many challenges has always been hampered by a lack of baseline data. For this reason, a survey on the status of the Australian native seed sector was instigated by the Australian Network for Plant Conservation. This was conducted between October 2016 and April 2017 with parties from all states and territories contributing (including seed collectors, growers/sellers/suppliers, purchasers/distributors, researchers). The survey aimed to generate data on a range of seed-related subjects including seed collection and handling practices, seed end-use and seed business structure and models. The survey also tested common perceptions on a range of sector-related topics to gauge opinions and gather feedback from sector participants. The survey, and subsequent Australian Native Seed Survey Report (launched in March 2020), provide an important snapshot of the status of the Australian native seed sector and further knowledge on its structure and its capacity to meet current and future seed demand for ecological restoration. This seminar will provide a brief background Australia’s seed and restoration sectors, discuss survey findings and implications and present report recommendations. Speaker: Paul is a restoration ecologist specialized in re-establishing species-rich native grasslands and grassy woodlands. In 2004 he instigated the Victorian ‘Grassy Groundcover Research Project’ (Melbourne University and Greening Australia), a state-wide, field-scale applied grassy restoration research program which showed for the first time under Australian conditions that complex grassy communities could be restored to a high functional quality. In 2011 he expanded the project to NSW focusing on EPBC-listed Cumberland Plain Grassy Woodland. There he continued to develop and refine cultivated seed production techniques and approaches for wildflowers and grasses to provide seed for restoration across that region. He was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 2016 and toured the USA investigating its native seed and restoration sectors which profoundly influenced his views on native seed markets, seed cultivation and restoration. In 2017 he co-developed the Australasian Network for Plant Conservation-led Native Seed Sector Survey which aimed to gather critical information and feedback from restorationists nationally. In 2019 he joined Kalbar Resources to oversee rehabilitation strategies for the company’s Fingerboards project in east Gippsland (Victoria) which includes ambitious goals to restore nationally listed grassy woodland at hitherto untested landscape scales (in Australia) on parts of the post-mined landscape. He has been and remains an active advocate and believer in the importance of the role that ecological restoration can play in restoring Australia’s historic and current depletion of native plant communities

Resource Type:

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program