Australasian Plant Conservation
Originally published in Australasian Plant Conservation 15(1), June - August 2006
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, CSIRO Plant Industry
Increased conservation activities
involving seeds of native plant species in recent years and the realisation that
our knowledge of seed biology is lacking in some areas has stimulated a range of
research projects studying seeds. Improved knowledge of the biology, ecology
and genetics of key species has in turn provided feedback to on-ground
practitioners and enhanced the sustainable nature of the various initiatives.
Having scientists and landholders, land managers and conservationists working
together ultimately results in more diverse conservation outcomes.
Conservation of Seed Resources
provides the theme of this issue of APC. This provides the opportunity to bring
to attention the diversity of enterprises undertaken in recent times, including
the partnerships established over the past few years between most Australian
States and Territories and the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) of the Royal Botanic
Gardens Kew. Some Australian seed banks have existed for some time, others are
newly established with support from MSB. There is also much activity at a local
level in terms of production and collection of seeds.
It is widely recognised that the
single-seedlot-per-species approach of the MSB Australian program does not
reflect the sum total of needs for conservation collections. More genetically
representative collections for each species will be developed over time, as has
been done already to some extent by Australian seed banks. The MSB funding has
been a great stimulus to seed banking in Australia, and will facilitate the
building of core collections, capabilities and further seed research programs. A
report is included here from the newly appointed Co-ordinator for Australian MSB
partnerships, Tom North.
Other articles illustrate some of the
advances that have been made in areas such as seed provenance selection, seed
handling and storage, seed viability, seed orchards and applications. An
innovative method of laying out seed orchards in the Murray Catchment of NSW
using PVC tape is described. It is encouraging to see research emerging from
seed bank initiatives, and this issue contains reports of studies into
strategies for collecting seeds from species which retain seed on the plant, and
into experimental design using seeds where a number of different treatments are
Innovative research is also underway
to enhance our knowledge of seed biology, ecology and genetics of undesirable
species, since improving our abilities of actively managing environmental weeds
assists conservation efforts. For instance, understanding the movement and gene
flow of willow seed of different origins, from different species in different
catchments of the Upper Murray system will contribute to more effective
management options for this group of plants that choke our vital river systems.
I anticipate being able to report on those studies in a future issue.
On a more general note, ANPC's recent
activities have concentrated on south-eastern Australia and particularly in NSW
for several reasons. The Committee is attempting to broaden the Network's
impact to other regions and would welcome suggestions from others. With our
Secretary Helena Mills recently moving to WA this may provide a greater critical
mass and opportunity to stimulate other members into action in that state.