Highlighting Native Seed Use In Restoration

I was fortunate enough to attend the National Native Seed Conference in Santa Fe this month, which focused on the benefits and challenges of using native plant materials in restoration. As I always do after a conference, I feel invigorated by all the new information I learned and excited to figure out how to incorporate some of the great ideas into ongoing or upcoming projects. The conference highlighted the importance of approaching restoration projects with the goal of maximizing the use of native, locally adapted plants and avoiding exotic species that may negatively alter the community composition of the site.

Maintaining or increasing local and native biodiversity should be a key goal in restoration as ecosystem functionality, resilience, and adaptability are all heavily influenced by the plant community and its interactions. Utilizing local species increases your chances of long term planting success as these populations are adapted to the local environment, show a greater fitness over time, and promote healthy ecological relationships. The Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA), chaired by the BLM, has proposed a National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration that specifically addresses the need for using native and local planting materials in all restoration projects and aims to identify the seed and research needs to implement this directive as well as develop the tools that land managers would need to achieve native restorations effectively. This strategy is a great step forward for strong science based restoration that takes into account genetics and adaptation, climate change, ecology, and phenology. The need for a strategy like this cannot be understated as our world faces massive climate changes at a rate and scale that is unprecedented, and I was pleased to be able to participate in a planning workshop regarding it at the conference.

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