A new scientific review of the issues around seed supply for restoration, including provenance, by Dr Linda Broadhurst and colleagues is now available (Broadhurst et al., 2008).
Their main recommendation was that "the emphasis on local seed sourcing will, in many cases, lead to poor restoration outcomes, particularly at broad geographic scales", and that "seed sourcing should concentrate less on local collection and more on capturing high quality and genetically diverse seed to maximise the adaptive potential of restoration efforts to current and future environmental change" (Broadhurst et al., 2008).
In the past, geographic distance was the main factor considered in seed sourcing. Florabank now recommends that seed collectors 1) get the taxonomy right by selecting the right species and sub-taxa for the site; 2) check that the environmental conditions at the collecting and planting sites are similar (e.g. altitude, soil, rainfall, etc); 3) ensure seed is collected from a healthy, large population and is good quality and 4) then choose the closest seed source that fulfils the other requirements. The new Florabank webtools developed in partnership with CSIRO follow this approach.
The Broadhurst et al. (2008) review was published in a new journal, Evolutionary Applications, and online content is currently free and accessible to the public. The review will be used by a reference panel to develop updated Florabank Guidelines on Provenance for seed collecting, and to make scientific recommendations towards a new native seed sector code of practice. This panel will meet in February 2009. When completed, these recommendations will be available on the Florabank website for public comment.
"Seed supply for broadscale restoration: maximising evolutionary potential" (2008) LM Broadhurst, A Lowe, DJ Coates, SA Cunningham, MMcDonald, PA Vesk, C Yates. Evolutionary Applications 1: 587-597. The online source for this article is http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/121397345/PDFSTART.