Volunteers in this small group primarily assist the Gardens to build its seedbank collection of local species for research and conservation.
The Seedy Volunteer program first commenced in the summer of 2011-12. The program targets threatened Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Southern Tablelands and Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fen communities within the ACT and surrounding NSW. The seed collection is aimed at ensuring we have adequate stocks of rare and threatened species from these vegetation communities in order to undertake research and aid the recovery and restoration.
Making new collections from the ACT to the National Seed Bank (NSB) is becoming more difficult as we narrow our target species to complete the collection of the total ACT flora. By 2020 we are aiming to have representative collections of all 1070 vascular plant taxa in the NSB.
Over the 2015/2016 summer season the NSB made 34 collections from 34 species of Grassland and Bog and Fen plant species. Due to favourable weather conditions there was a long collecting season, beginning on 26th November 2015 and continuing through to 24th March 2016. All Seedy Vols attended an afternoon of collection training. 13 trips were planned during the collection season, four to grasslands and nine to bog and fen sites. All trips were completed successfully.
In this fifth year of the Seedy Volunteer Program, 17 volunteers enrolled and everyone completed the season with no mishaps and a total of 312 hours contributed.
Each week during the collecting season, 3 volunteers join an ANBG staff member and drive off to search for ripe seeds in selected bush sites.
Seeds of grasses, non-woody and woody native plants are collected and returned to the Garden, where staff and the Seed Bank Volunteers process the material collected and undertake germination tests. Quality seed is stored in the Seed Bank for conservation and to support research, recovery, garden display and education.
The local collections made by the Seedy Volunteers and ANBG staff are of potential value for ACT and regional conservation projects.
Each Seedy Volunteer is initially trained in the protocols of collecting seeds and taking voucher herbarium specimens. They are then able to assist in the collecting process by photographing the flora and surrounding environment and gathering seeds from carefully selected plants.
Each volunteer is rewarded by pleasant days out in the bush, the opportunity to hone their plant identification skills in the field, as well as contributing to ongoing conservation and research on Australian plants. The Friends assist in this program by coordinating the volunteer roster throughout the season.
Some volunteers from the ANBG Friends also assist in targeted projects for the collection of Threatened Species for recovery programs plus the Bogs and Fens Seed Research Program. In past years, volunteers from the Friends took part in the Alpine Seed Collecting Project.
John Fitz Gerald, Jeanette Jeffery and Lydia Guja collecting at Smokers Flat.
Image: S. Fyfe ANBG