Last month, NACC NRM partnered with DWER, GreenOil Tree Nursery, Parscape, Western Mulga, and Batavia Coast Maritime Institute (BCMI) Central Regional TAFE to establish the “Seed collection for Northern Ecological Linkages offsets” project.
As part of the State Government’s WA Recovery Plan, the Environmental Revegetation and Rehabilitation Fund, Green Jobs program has provided funding to collect and process native seed from the region for use in native vegetation restoration activities. This project also generates employment opportunities for people whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19.
On Friday 28th May, NACC NRM joined seed collectors and staff from Central Regional TAFE to process and package seeds that had been collected through the program.
As many Australian plants are adapted to a fire-prone environment, many seeds require heat, smoke or fire to be expelled from their casings, or to become viable for germination. With this in mind, the seeds of some species collected for the project – such as the banksias – were heat-treated in an oven prior to being separated for storage. Seeds can be surprisingly difficult to identify if you don’t know what you’re looking for – particularly when they are sealed in follicles, or have husk and chaff surrounding them.
Under professional guidance, from a variety of plants including banksias, eucalypts and sheoaks, seeds were gleaned from their husks, capsules and cones to be vacuum-sealed in labelled bags for storage. Some of the finer seeds, such as the red dust-like seeds of York Gum (Eucalyptus loxophleba), were separated from the ‘chaff’ using a vacuum separator.
One of GreenOil Tree Nursery’s employees, Tobyn Fitch-Rabbitt, says the seed collection provides a great opportunity to put studies into practice and learn from someone in the industry.
“Working with Ian Pulbrook of GreenOil Tree Nursery has been a fantastic learning opportunity as he talks through the geology, soil types and biomes of areas we work in, and the various methods to conserve and rehabilitate natural areas,” said Tobyn.
In the future, these seeds will be accessed for use in revegetation projects that help our region’s wildlife by restoring habitat and creating corridors between bushland remnants. Restoring bushland can also have flow-on benefits to farmers – bush can act as windbreaks and increases ground cover, protecting soils by reducing wind and water erosion. Trees also create shade for livestock, improve land aesthetics, and increase on-farm biodiversity.
NACC NRM’s Biodiversity Project Officer Kahree Garnaut says the project is not only proving to be successful, but it is also a providing employment opportunities.
“The project is going really well, and it’s great to see local people being employed to contribute to the restoration of natural ecosystems and biodiversity in their region.”