The future of native seed in Australia: a shared vision

Native seed represents growth, potential and hope. These seeds are essential to preserve and grow the unique biodiversity of the Australian landscape. However, the recent bushfires have created significant negative impacts. With Project Phoenix, we hope to ‘plant the seeds of change’ and create a healthy native seed sector to support improved landscape management and resilience against future natural disasters.

The Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC) Australian Native Seed Sector Survey Report provided us with the opportunity to better understand current sector structures and practices. The report also focuses on the sector’s capacity to meet current and future demand for native seed and the broad range of issues we face as sector participants. The ANPC Report identified major constraints and tabled the 13 most pressing issues. Its insights into the experience of our community also created an opportunity to catalyse change and created a challenge, a call to action to the sector.

Our unique native plant ecosystems are a critical habitat for native animals. They are also essential in mitigating the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. The native seed sector is vital to restoring Australia’s ecosystems. In response to the devastating 2019/20 summer bushfires, Project Phoenix was initiated to increase native seed and plant supply for restoration. This was part of the Commonwealth’s $50 million Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery package.

Project Phoenix is a 16-month national program, designed to be sector-led, guided by an External Steering Committee (ESC), and coordinated by Greening Australia . One of the key project outcomes is the delivery of a 10-year Native Seed and Landscape Restoration Strategy for Australia.  To complement and inform the strategy, Project Phoenix will deliver 29 additional projects, that investigate issues, barriers and opportunities identified in the ANPC Report. With the Department of Agriculture, Water & Environment as the grant manager, Greening Australia has engaged an additional 25 organisations to deliver these projects. These include eight state and territory agencies, six not-for-profits, five consultancies, three small businesses and two research institutions.