Community-based seed production for large scale restoration: Socio-ecological challenges

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Andre Coutinho

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Direct seeding is a well-recognized technique to reintroduce native herbaceous plants for restoration of grasslands and savannas. Due to low seed viability and germination, high seeding density is recommended to enhance restoration success. Since 2012, we have tested and developed seed harvesting, handling, and planting techniques for dozens of herbaceous species in the Brazilian savanna. Based on this developing demand for direct seeding, local communities have supplied seed for restoring 200 hectares within central Brazil since 2016. We identified socio-ecological challenges and possible solutions to improve community-based seed production of herbaceous plants for restoration. First, scientific knowledge of plant taxonomy, phenology, seed production and germination of herbaceous plants in tropical grasslands and savannas are extremely limited. Since native herbaceous plants are also less commonly used and cultivated than woody species, local knowledge on their ecology is also limited. We have developed active research with seed collectors to establish techniques, practices, and prices for marketing seed of 14 herbaceous species. Second, native seed production has strengthened the household livelihoods of 66 collectors who have supplied more than eight tonnes of seed and generated USD 50,000. However, the restoration market is still incipient and not well structured. At the same time, in Brazil, plant material trade is heavily regulated based on bureaucratic and technical standards. Although the herbaceous seed supply for restoration can be a community development strategy linked with biodiversity conservation, institutional systems, applied research, and policies must develop approaches to upscale local capacities, knowledge, and technologies to overcome seed shortage.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration