The nation needs native plants, which are central to restoring critical natural landscapes after wildland fires, hurricanes, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters, and damage caused by invasive species. The demand for native plant seeds is coming from the public and private sectors to support wildlife; to redress the impacts of man-made disturbances and, for “green” infrastructure and urban landscaping.
Currently, the market for matching a critical need for native plants species with a supplier is unstable. The number and types of entities that need native plant materials has never been well documented, nor has the scale and diversity of native seeds uses. On the supply side, there are informal, formal not-for-profit, and commercial seed collectors, producers, and sellers. The fragmented system sometimes leads to shortages due to predictable, but large-scale disaster events that consume existing supply, and also because having a supply of the “right” seed on hand requires advanced planning. The lack of a clear picture of the seed supply makes it difficult to estimate the nation's true capacity to provide native seeds on a reliable basis, leading to a continual cycle of substitution.
The first goal of the National Seed Strategy (developed by the Plant Conservation Alliance and through an MOU of 12 federal agencies) is to assess the national public and private demand for native plants, and the existing and potential capacity to supply them. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study is in the first phase of a two-part project to provide the holistic view needed to put the nation’s native seed supply on a more solid foundation. In the next phase, input from organizations (states, land trusts, non-profits) that needs seeds for ecological restoration is needed. This presentation will aim to make the case for getting those entities to participate in the assessment.