Native Seed Supply and the Restoration Species Pool

Conserv Lett. Mar-Apr 2018;11(2):e12381. doi: 10.1111/conl.12381. Epub 2017 Jun 19.

Abstract

Globally, annual expenditure on ecological restoration of degraded areas for habitat improvement and biodiversity conservation is approximately $18bn. Seed farming of native plant species is crucial to meet restoration goals, but may be stymied by the disconnection of academic research in seed science and the lack of effective policies that regulate native seed production/supply. To illustrate this problem, we identified 1,122 plant species important for European grasslands of conservation concern and found that only 32% have both fundamental seed germination data available and can be purchased as seed. The "restoration species pool," or set of species available in practice, acts as a significant biodiversity selection filter for species use in restoration projects. For improvement, we propose: (1) substantial expansion of research and development on native seed quality, viability, and production; (2) open-source knowledge transfer between sectors; and (3) creation of supportive policy intended to stimulate demand for biodiverse seed.

Keywords: Biodiversity; European grasslands; ecological restoration; revegetation; seed germination; seed production.