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SEEDS project 2015 highlights

SEEDS project 2015 highlights

SEEDS project 2015 highlights

Date posted: 23 December 2015

The SEEDS (Stewardship of Endemic Endangered Seeds) trial started in 2014 and involves SA Seed Conservation Centre scientists providing the seed of a local threatened species to school students. More than 500 students and 20 teachers have learnt how to propagate the seeds and grow the plants at their schools, aiming to revegetate their communities with the endangered flora and save the plants from extinction! Botanic Gardens Schools Education Manager Michael Yeo says the potential for the project’s growth around the state – given adequate resources – is high, and he’s been buoyed by 2015’s successes. Some highlights:

Gilles Street Primary School, Adelaide

Gilles Street has had two classes (Year 3/4 and 4/5) and their plant, Veronica derwentiana, is found in very small numbers in one Adelaide Hills location. Limited scientific information is available on the species, but it’s thought to have grown across the Adelaide Plains in riparian wet shaded areas prior to European colonisation. Students have germinated, propagated, grown and reintroduced their species into an area of semi remnant vegetation in Adelaide’s South Parklands. The teachers have incorporated the SEEDS project into all parts of their learning program, including an end-of-year performance. The reintroduction was made possible and, hopefully, more successful through a partnership with Adelaide City Council. The Council identified a section of the Parklands, within walking distance of the school, that the council was active in rehabilitating. Together the school and council reintroduced the Veronica grown by the students, along with a significant number of companion species provided by the council. Future partnership plans include students weeding and maintaining the area and the council watering through long summers when the students aren’t at school.

Investigator College, Victor Harbor

Key teacher, John, is a Year 4 educator with a passion for the environment. The school has several sites and an Eco-Centre where it conducts environmental education and plant propagation. Its facilities include an ongoing project rehabilitating an adjacent River Murray site. The school also has a Cert II program in Conservation and Land Management, utilising the propagation site. The SEEDS species Velvet Daisy Bush (Olearia pannosa) was propagated and sown, and the school began looking for more endangered species to work with. After numerous discussions we looked at a model with focuses on plant communities that had representative threatened species in the region – a strategy that looked at rehabilitation sites first instead of a species. A site with remnant overstory of Peppermint woodland was chosen, with a view to rehabilitating and restoring the understory. The school’s propagation facilities and its willingness to share with other schools in the region, has turned this concept into a cooperative project site – a regional model where Investigator will assist and provide a place for plant propagation if smaller schools don’t have facilities. The rehabilitation site will have endangered species from a number of sites, plus remnant species that are appropriate companions. This model offers the opportunity to pool resources and it brings a focus for schools and the local community to the project and the broader community.

Kildare College, Holden Hill

Cullen parvum (Small Scurf-pea) is a species that’s more difficult to propagate and has a very few plants in the environment. Through the connections and enthusiasm of Kildare’s experienced environmentalist teacher, the school was able to access the metropolitan catchment area around Hope Valley Reservoir, usually closed to the public. There are only a few known Cullen parvum plants in this area so they’re near extinction. The school is growing on the species with a view to seed orchard them before reintroducing them to the clay soils around the reservoir (in partnership with SA Water). Another project that has partly grown from this is University of Adelaide research to investigate the genetics of three separate sources of Cullen parvum, including Kildare’s SEEDS project specimens. This research may provide important information about provenance and endangered species that may contribute to future rehabilitation strategies.

The SEEDS project is part of a partnership between the Department of Education and Child Development and the Botanic Gardens of South Australia and SA Seed Conservation Centre. It is proudly supported by program sponsor Beach Energy.

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