A Carolinian Seed Strategy

Stefan Weber

What is a Seed Strategy?

The goal is to scale-up a small amount of local, wild seed, so that we can pay it forward and grow our collective capacity to do high quality habitat restoration. Populations of wild plants established outside their natural habitat for conservation purposes are called ‘ex situ’ populations, but we sometimes refer to them simply as ‘captive’ populations of known wild origin. Seeds can be scaled up using traditional agronomic practices, and these ‘ex situ’ orchards may provide much more seed, without impacting the original wild population more than once. 


The demand for native wildflower seed is growing

There is an opportunity to combine agriculture with restoration to meet that market demand through a Seed-Strategy. There are many co-benefits to establishing native plant seed orchards beyond the value of the seed itself. Wildflower seed orchards serve as large-scale, high-quality pollinator forage habitat, providing native blooms all season.  Seed orchards make wonderful settings for special events such as concerts or weddings as well!
Southern Ontario is home to more species of plants and animals than anywhere else in the country! It is also the most densely populated, often placing human development at odds with ecosystems and wild species. In the region, most of the land has been altered and developed at some point in recent history and the native plant communities that once thrived in southern Ontario’s Carolinian Life Zone are severely reduced and fragmented across the landscape by roads, cities, and farms. 
The loss of biodiversity worldwide is alarming and impacts human well-being. Biodiverse landscapes are more resilient to climate change, disease, and are more productive. To celebrate and enhance the ecosystem services that nature provides us, the United Nation has declared 2021 the beginning of an International Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, following in the momentum of the previous International Decade on Biodiversity. To learn more about ecosystem services worldwide please visit: https://www.decadeonrestoration.org/
Restoration ecologists aim to return native plants to the landscape, in large part to support wildlife like butterflies, bees and birds. Many Carolinian plants themselves are also rare, uncommon, threatened and even endangered. Some of the least common native plants are those adapted to grasslands such as prairie and savannah. These habitats are rare in Ontario, with only 3% of Ontario’s original grasslands remaining. World-wide grasslands represent some of the rarest and most threatened ecosystems. 

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