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How far is it to your local? A survey on local provenance use in New South Wales



Summary  The decision as to where to source seed is one of the most critical in restoration projects. Locally collected seed is often recommended, or even contractually required, because it is assumed to be adapted to local conditions and therefore result in superior survival and growth rates, conferring a greater probability of restoration success. The perceived advantages, which include retaining the genetic ‘integrity’ of the site, are centred around the avoidance of outbreeding depression and hybridization. These traditional reasons for using locally collected seed need to be reconsidered in the light of rapidly changing climatic and other environmental conditions; plants that are locally adapted now may not be locally adapted in future. Understanding the current usage of local provenance is pivotal to discussions on its appropriateness under climate change. We present the results of a survey of restoration practitioners in New South Wales on attitudes and practices in relation to the use of local provenance. We found that whilst the majority of practitioners preferentially use local provenance seeds, the actual definition of local provenance varied amongst respondents. Whilst 80% of participants believe that projections of future climate change are relevant to restoration projects, there is an apparent reluctance to actively manage for this eventuality. However, many respondents are in favour of a review of seed-sourcing policy/guidelines to allow for the inclusion of non-local provenance material. Implications of the survey for potential changes to guidelines to better prepare for anticipated changing conditions are discussed.