Greening Australia’s Sydney Seed Hub
7 December 2016
Caption: Growing native plants adjacent to the LLS Demonstration Farm to collect seeds for Cumberland Plain ecological restoration projects.
X marks the spot for each new plant growing through the protective weedmat, all cut by hand and grown directly into the soil ready for when it is time for the seeds to be collected to be deployed to 45 hectares of biodiversity restoration work. This is one of the projects resourced by the Sydney Seed Hub, run by Greening Australia to tackle the Cumberland Plain Woodland critically endangered ecological community listing issued since 1997.
At the beginning of November, almost 80 members and stakeholders from the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) visited the Seed Hub project adjacent to the Richmond Local Land Services Demonstration Farm. The seed production area is capable of producing over 100 species of herbs and grasses where they grow under the watchful eye of Samantha Craigie, Senior Ecologist from Greening Australia.
Caption: AORA NSW members site visit to the Greening Australia Seed Production Area adjacent to the LLS Demonstration Farm on 9 November 2016.
The facility enables the mass-production of native seed for ecological restoration work on the plain, allowing for the production of larger quantities of native species that has ever been possible before, and which could not be collected from the wild on this scale.
Ms Craigie also explains that the project will be starting a series of trials with Roads and Maritime Service that will include other types of seeding applications that may include compost (e.g compost blanket types). They are also looking to expand the footprint of the seed production area. That expansion may include dressing of the growing soil with a compost application.
By amplifying rare native seed resources to future-proof numerous threatened ground layer species, the project will revolutionise the scale and diversity of environmental restoration, as well as enhance the genetic diversity of populations in the wild.
Utilising these horticultural and agricultural approaches, and agronomic principles ensure the plants are robust and healthy and produce large amounts of seed for harvest while keeping weed competition minimal. In the first year 700 grams of seed were collected, in the third year 40kgs of seed were collected from the diverse herb section.
Large-scale ground layer restoration of the Cumberland Plain grassy woodland community is vitally important as 80% of the species diversity occurs in the ground layer.
Greening Australia’s restoration approach can be a full reconstruction or can and give natural regeneration a bit of nudge. These approaches improve and enhance previous techniques, such as the use of tubestock planting, or direct seeding in lines.
Sydney's Cumberland Plain stretches west from Parramatta to the Hawkesbury-Nepean River, and from Windsor in the north to Thirlmere in the south. It contains some of the most fertile country in the Sydney Basin, which has made it a focus for agriculture, which along with urban development, has seen this area largely cleared of native vegetation. As a result, for 200 years the land cleared across the plain has created small, fragmented pockets of bushland that have been unable to support fauna habitat and other ecological processes including providing the quantity of seed required to restore the area. With only 8% of the Cumberland Woodland remaining, the restoration from the Sydney Seed Hub will encourage the insects and animals that will once again call the Cumberland Plain their home.
Caption: Native Blue Bells (Wahlenbergia communis) growing at the Greening Australia Seed Production Area to collect seeds for Cumberland Plain ecological restoration projects.
The Sydney Seed Hub is supported by the Australian Government; NSW Office of Environment and Heritage; Western Sydney Parklands Trust; Western Sydney University; Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and Greater Sydney Local Land Services and a variety of local councils.
Twitter: Greening Australia @GreeningAust