Local provenancing in subtropical rainforest restoration : for better or worse? A review of practitioners’ perspectives
Cooper, SL, Catterall, C & Bundock, PC 2018, 'Local provenancing in subtropical rainforest restoration : for better or worse? A review of practitioners’ perspectives', Ecological Management & Restoration, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 156-165.
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The adaptive potential of restored communities is important to their long‐term sustainability, particularly in the face of changing environmental conditions such as climate change. The genetic diversity of rainforest plants in restoration projects and their suitability to current and future environmental site conditions are important considerations for restoration practitioners and seed suppliers. Presented here are the results from a survey of rainforest restoration practitioners in North East New South Wales and South East Queensland, Australia. The survey canvassed practitioners’ perspectives on local provenancing, genetic diversity and other aspects of restoration that have the potential to influence the long‐term success of restored rainforest communities. All respondents to this survey typically included a planting component in their restoration projects (whether for reconstruction or to supplement assisted regeneration). Planting represents an anthropogenic selection and translocation of genotypes to a restoration site. As a result, considerations of genetic origin and the potential implications to the restored rainforest community are relevant to most restoration projects. This industry survey's results showed that genetic diversity and local provenancing are concepts of importance to practitioners. However, there seems to be a lack of clarity within the industry about how to define local provenance and how the concepts of local provenancing and genetic diversity influence each other. The results indicated that local provenancing remains the preferred provenancing strategy amongst practitioners, with inclusion of non‐local provenance seed not regarded as an effective means of improving genetic diversity. This is despite researchers highlighting the limitations of local provenancing, particularly in highly fragmented landscapes, and despite the publication of numerous alternative provenancing strategies. Rainforest restoration may benefit from practitioners questioning the appropriateness of local provenancing to their restoration projects and considering that in some circumstances exclusive reliance on local provenance stock may in fact be worse, not better, for the long‐term sustainability of restored communities.