YAN is working in partnership with landholders and scientists to assist the long-term survival of native plants in the Yass Valley under changing climatic conditions. This is being done by carefully introducing greater genetic diversity into existing plant populations. With greater genetic diversity, it is likely that plants will be better able to adapt as temperatures and rainfall become more variable and extreme. In this project, genetic diversity is being introduced by growing plants from seed collected in a variety of regions – including places that are hotter, drier, colder and wetter – such seed will be known as admixture seed.
Yass Area Network of Landcare Groups is proud of its Climate Ready work, helping the region to be more resilient in the face of current and future climate change. Introducing greater genetic diversity into plant communities for climate ‘readiness’ is a relatively new endeavour for scientists and land managers. This project will give us some information about how well plants grown from local seed grow and survive, compared with plants grown from seed sourced from climatically diverse areas.
There are a number of work streams connected to YAN’s Climate Ready project:
As a first step in 2019 the Climate Ready project had identified four species to work with to conduct a trial, however due to the unavailability of both local and admixture seed from hotter, drier, colder and wetter regions for the fourth herb plant, our trail will only include three plants in our 2020-21 sowing and trial planting:
* a large tree, Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora);
* a small tree, Green Wattle (Acacia deanei subsp. Paucijuga)
* a shrub, Slender Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscosa subsp. angustissima).
The trial plantings will occur from Autumn 2021 on two separate sites across the Yass Valley region. Detailed information on the survival of each local and admixture tube-stock planted will be collected for the next 5 years. Read more detail about his project here.
Climate Ready Assessment and Admixture Seed Provenance of local species
YAN volunteers are extending the work of the Climate Ready Revegetation Project through assessing nearly 70 native Yass Valley plants, which are currently grown across Landcare nurseries. Eighteen out of 28 species assessed so far suggest they will grow in the projected hotter climate. The detailed seed provenance/climate ready assessment is achieved by analysing plant species information as detailed in NSW Nichefinder and the Atlas of Living Australia. Seed is being sourced from eastern seaboard states to increase the likelihood of soil compatibility etc.
Future sowings from Summer 2020 will include admixture seeds
Greening Australia has been asked to source seed for the group of 18 plants assessed as climate-tolerant. If Greening Australia can source seed from the identified hotter drier, colder and wetter bio-regions this admixture seed will be introduced into the sowing plan for regional native plant nurseries as a way for climate ready plants to be locally grown and ultimately distributed across the region. Check out a map of NSW bio-regions here.
There are four native Landcare plant nurseries in the Yass Area Network, and each is committed to introducing greater genetic diversity of carefully identified species. The nursery managers recognise the importance of good record keeping and nursery procedures to be able to identify plants from various seed stock, especially because the ‘climate ready’ work is still in its experimental phase. Detailed records will be maintained in each nursery to record sowing and germination information for sown seed from each bio-region. This is a crucial, albeit less visible, work stream as part of YAN’s larger Climate Ready focus. The YAN Resources Flora has also been progressively updated to include information on native plants grown in the respective nurseries with links to germination techniques, planting recommendations etc.
Plant identification and seed collecting
YAN is providing opportunities for Yass Valley landholders and residents to receive training in local plant identification and seed collection. This will increase the capacity of local people to be involved in revegetation projects into the future. Again the YAN Resources Flora page has been updated to include a number of plant identification seed collecting resources which are relevant for this region.
One of the big challenges in this project is sourcing the seed; attempting to source genetically diverse native seed requires time and access to an extensive network of seed collectors. Admixture seed is not available for all species. Even though the plants grow in a variety of places, there are not necessarily local seed collectors to go with them! Working with scientiﬁc collaborators has been invaluable and flexible funding arrangements means that we are able to germinate the seed and plant tube-stock when conditions are favourable.
* DPIE through Macquarie University enabled Nola Hancock from Macquarie University and two DPIE climate specialists to work with the YAN Climate Ready Revegetation team to progress this project to date. Funds have also been provided to progress the plant trial which will commence when local and admixture seed from the three trial plants are sown in Spring 2020 and tube-stock is planted in Autumn 2021.
* A grant from Michael King, Landcare Australia is funding the cost of acquiring local and admixture seed sourced through Greening Australia
* A small seed funding grant from SE LLS was also received to assist in the acquisition of the first package of local and admixture seed.
Related and complementary project NSW Adapt funded ‘Let’s Try It’ project
The Let’s Try It! Project is a community-lead project which will develop a social infrastructure and high-impact actions to respond to climate change in the Yass Valley. The project consists of two parts: 1. Community Conversations for Adaptive Capacity. Hosting community gatherings across the local government area to talk about the projected changes in the climate and impacts that this will have on our lives, and the landscape and adaptation actions. 2. Local Training and Practice Program focused on three Adaptation Actions – more trees, better plant cover, and happier soil. The vegetation that will be planted and promoted in this project will again be ‘climate ready’ – that is, it will be assessed as being likely to survive more the variable and extreme climate conditions that are predicted under climate change.
YAN has contributed funds to this project to ensure that the ‘Climate Ready” component supports the goals of the larger YAN Climate Ready Revegetation project.
Project Phoenix Resources for the Australian Native Seed and Plant Sector
Project Phoenix has provided an opportunity to produce evidence-based reports and resources that are a point in time snapshot of the national native seed sector funded by the government’s Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery Program. Greening Australia was asked to coordinate Project Phoenix and there has been widespread collaboration and contributions made by the 25 organisations producing the reports that are now available to the public. Find out more here.