The Far South Coast Landcare Community Seedbank has expanded their efforts and successfully collected around 20kg of over 107 different species of local native seed to assist in bushfire regeneration projects.
Funds enabling the organisation to expand under project banner Ramping up the Seedbank were made possible thanks to the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program, which provided $18,300.
The project boosted seed collection, processing and storage to meet the increased demand for provenance seed following the Black Summer bushfires and support biodiversity conservation efforts.
FSCLA programs manager Jean Bentley said although the native seedbank had been operational for the last 22 years, the bushfires ramped up demand for local seed.
She said demand came from increased fire recovery funds available to organisations like Local Land Services and Bega Valley Shire Council to do revegetation planting on private property and council land.
Seeds were distributed to local nurseries who then went on to grow tube stock for revegetation purposes.
Ms Bentley said thanks to those great connections between local nurseries and the seedbank, the number of species available to be replanted on a given site was very diverse - creating good outcomes for biodiversity.
"We'll often have 30 different species minimum on one site, [whereas] Landcare Australia might talk about five species," she said.
The seed was largely collected from private property, public land, or refuges that weren't burnt by the fire. However seed was not allowed to be collected from National Parks.
Ms Bentley said the major benefit of the project was that "genetically superior" local trees were going to be planted back into the landscape.
She said local plants had higher survival rates because they were adapted to the soil, the climate, and browsing fauna of that area.
"If the seedback hadn't ramped up then we probably would have ended up with species outside our local provenance coming into this area.
"Not only might you not have as good survival rates, but it contaminates the genetics of the area for future seed collection as well," she said.
Through the grant funding FSCLA was able to bring on seedbank coordinator Merryn Carey, who has run native plant nursey South Coast Flora at Dignams Creek for the last 15 years.
Ms Carey said the project was "an absolute rollercoaster ride" - thanks to big contrasts in environmental conditions over the last few years.
"We went from many years of severe drought into an overabundance of rain and the trees didn't respond well to that.
"Feeder roots shrivel up and die due to years of drought and bushfires, and then they get hammered with too much rain and start 'drowning'.
"We thought the trees were recovering well but then we noticed they were dropping their leaves and dropping their seed crops over all those wet months," she said.
Seed high in moisture could also cause problems, as it needed to be very dry for storage.
"We had a lot of materials going mouldy. If you collect wet material it goes mouldy too quick to deal with."
Rodents were another challenge throughout the project.
"They all seemed to move out of the bush and into the seed shed because it's too wet for them outside too," said Ms Carey.
The project has also allowed the seedbank to connect with the community by providing workshops on seed collecting activities and propagation throughout its duration.
Ms Carey said a benefit of the project was that it allowed growth in the communities' awareness of the Far South Coast seedbank and what it has done to support projects "helping to heal the land".
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