Searching for the Source: Native Seed Collection

Searching for the Source: Native Seed Collection

Recently one of our team had the opportunity to share in a day-long workshop on the art of native seed collection. This workshop was one of a series being provided to the community by SEQ Catchments working in cooperation with Greening Australia. A huge added benefit of the day was the opportunity to listen and talk with the Ngarang Wal Gold Coast Aboriginal Association Incorporation land managers who are the custodians of the Guanaba Indigenous Protected Area where the workshop was held. Attendees learnt about how the managers are custodians of this area and how they are seeking to manage and protect the natural and cultural qualities of the land here. The approach of these dedicated land managers will be the subject of a future Natura Pacific newsletter article.

Greening Australia's Paul Ryan speaking to workshop participants

Greening Australia’s Paul Ryan speaking to workshop participants

The workshop was conducted by Greening Australia’s Paul Ryan and was an informative, hands-on look at native seed collection techniques. Considering the increasing requirements for the use of local progeny plant stock in regeneration and restoration projects, it was great to see this information being shared so freely within the community.

The workshop focused on all of the aspects of native seed collection starting with the importance of safety considerations whilst out and about collecting seeds. Assessing the risks and hazards, what personal safety equipment is needed and what risk mitigation measures are required are all a critical part of good seed collection practice, as well as consideration of the legal requirements of occupation health and safety. Additionally, legal and legislative factors must be considered while collecting seed, such as always gaining permission from the land owner / manager prior to entering any property and compliance with all relevant environmental protection measures for the location. It is recommended that you take the time to do the research on what may affect you in your state, local area and land tenure. Some things to consider would be:

  • spread of weed species
  • phytophthera control
  • endangered species protection
  • fire safety
  • chemical safety
  • waterway protection
  • land clearing legislation
  • permits required

The next part of the workshop focussed on the practicalities of collecting seed, and the checklists, tips and suggestions put forward were thorough and comprehensive. From complete equipment checklists to a seed collection planning checklist which covers all you may need to consider while collecting seed which covers all things to consider such as dealing with landowners and effective and appropriate communication before, during and after your activities.

Pole pruner being used to collect seed

Pole pruner being used to collect seed

Actual collection of seed then comes with a further set of considerations, which were well covered by our Greening Australia expert Paul. For example the importance of: species identification; assessing the maturity, health and suitability of plants for collection; comprehensive data collection; timing your collecting; the variety of collection methods; and much more. Further time was then spent on cleaning seed in preparation for storage in order to maximise viability as well as seed treatment methods to optimise the chances of germination.

The lasting impression from this workshop was that native seed collection is most definitely something that requires planning, research and skill development. However, the potential for the propagation of a variety of native species from local progeny for use in regeneration and restoration projects is huge and with the help of the expertise of groups such as Greening Australia and the support of organisations like SEQ Catchments (click on the links for more information on these) then a lot can be achieved to restore native habitats across the country.

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