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Regent Honeyeater revegetation project
Article from Samara (Newsletter of the Partners of the Millennium Seed Bank Project), Issue 9: July – December 2005.
NSW Seedbank in recovery effort for endangered Regent Honeyeater
The Regent Honeyeater is the most endangered species of honeyeater in Australia, with estimates of a total population of somewhere between 1000-1500 individuals.
Breeding is now thought to be confined to three main areas: around Barraba in inland northern NSW, around Chiltern in north eastern Victoria, with the most important location being the Capertee Valley, about 3 hours drive north west of Sydney. The valley is a spectacular example of Sydney sandstone geology, surrounded by sheer cliffs and wilderness areas. It is bordered to the south by Gardens of Stone National Park, and to the east by the vast Wollemi National Park.
Since about 1993 a revegetation program has been undertaken in the cleared agricultural sections of the Capertee Valley, with a range of locally collected plant species favoured by the honeyeaters being used in the plantings. About 120 volunteers undertake two plantings per year, in April/May, and in August, with approximately 8000 plants being planted each year.
The most important species for the Regent Honeyeater are Mugga Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon), Yellow Box (E. melliodora), White Box (E. albens) and River Oak (Casuarina cunninghamiana). These provide nectar flows at various times of the year, with the nectar on the River Oak being provided by the mistletoe Amyema cambagei.
As well as these larger trees, smaller species such as some of the many Acacias in the valley are also being planted, as these are fast growing and soil nitrogen fixers.
Through the Millennium Seed Bank partnership - SeedQuest NSW, the NSW Seedbank has been able to provide 250 species of NSW native plant seed per year to the Millenium Seed Bank, with the Capertee Valley a major focus of our collecting effort. So far 20 important Regent Honeyeater food and habitat species have been collected from the Capertee Valley, which are now duplicated at the both the Millenium Seed Bank and NSW Seedbank. The NSW Seedbank collection has provided seed for revegetation as part of the national Regent Honeyeater Recovery Program. Despite the severe drought affecting virtually the whole of NSW, many of the eucalypts are developing fruit during this winter, and these are expected to be added to the NSW Seedbank collecting program during the coming year.
Ecology of Cumberland Plain Woodland
The original native vegetation community occurring on clay soils around western Sydney, this Endangered Ecological Community supports an array of plant and animal species. The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan includes small natural remnants of this vegetation type, and the NSW Seedbank holds collections from many of our native species on site. Researchers with the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust have been studying the Ecology of the Cumberland Plain Woodland as well as germination of woodland species.
Storage of terrestrial orchid seed
Orchids are an important component of native flora but sadly many species are under threat particularly from urban and industrial expansion. One conservation approach is to collect and store the tiny dust-like seeds. For terrestrial (ground growing) orchids these seeds require a specific mycorrhizal association in order to germinate. Methods for long-term storage of both seed and mycorrhizal partners are being investigated by researchers at the Australian Botanic Garden, through a project funded by The Hermon Slade Foundation, in collaboration with the NSW Seedbank.
Wollemi Pine seed research
Research into seed storage and germination of the rare, endangered, and internationally renowned Wollemi Pine was conducted at the NSW Seedbank.