GERALDTON conservation group, Chapman River Friends are waiting for the end of the wildflower season which signals the ripening of native species’ seeds and the beginning of seed collection.
It is a critical time of year for revegetation at the Chapman River Park and collection of wattle (acacia) seeds is the next focus.
As with many Australian plant species, the wattle requires specific environmental conditions for pods to open and release their seeds—in this case it is a series of hot days that triggers the process.
Jenna Brooker from Chapman River Friends says there is a rule of thumb to go by in collection.
“There is only a small proportion you collect from any one plant,” she says.
“Let the rest scatter because you want natural regeneration to occur, you don’t want to deplete the natural seed bank in the soil.”
Once collected, the seed is cleaned before being placed in a local nursery; ideally this happens in late December—the optimum time for propagation.
The young plants spend six months being cared for until a healthy root system forms and growth reaches about 30cm in height.
City of Greater Geraldton’s Senior Environmental Sustainability Officer, Robyn Nicholas has plans to revegetate four sites within the park during next winter.
To ensure the best chance of the seedlings reaching maturity it is important to consider different soil types and suitability and ensure revegetation is done with plants that are found locally.
Before being replanted in the wild, the park itself has had to be cleared of invasive weed species such as boxthorn (Lycium).
Volunteers have eradicated most of this but ongoing maintenance will be required to keep it out.
The landscape of the park has also been severely degraded by illegal dumping and vehicle use on bush tracks and this is being addressed.
New signage that provides information on flora and fauna is hoped to change people’s awareness and attitudes towards the use of the park.
In order for seed to be collected, it is essential to obtain the correct licences from the Department of Environment and Conservation and follow strict guidelines.
Collected seed can only be used in the revegetation of the area it came from and seeds cannot be over-collected.