Collection and production of native seeds for ecological restoration

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The global push to achieve ecosystem restoration targets has resulted in an increased demand for native seeds that current production systems are not able to fulfill. In many countries, seeds used in ecological restoration are often sourced from natural populations. Though providing seed that is reflective of the genetic diversity of a species, wild harvesting often cannot meet the demands for large‐scale restoration and may also result in depletion of native seed resources through over harvesting. To improve seed production and decrease seed costs, seed production systems have been established in several countries to generate native seeds based on agricultural or horticultural production methods or by managing natural populations. However, there is a need to expand these production systems which have a primary focus on herbaceous species to also include slower maturing shrub and tree seed. Here we propose that to reduce the threat of overharvest on the viability of natural populations, seed collection from natural populations should be replaced or supplemented by seed production systems. This overview of seed production systems demonstrates how to maximize production and minimize unintended selection bias so that native seed batches maintain genetic diversity and adaptability to underpin the success of ecological restoration programs.

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