Project Phoenix: Growing opportunity for native nurseries

By Gabrielle Stannus

Is your business currently producing native seed and/or plants for environmental restoration or conservation work? Project Phoenix is building a native nursery network and would like to hear from you.


As part of the national response to the 2019-20 bushfires, Greening Australia received $5m in initial funding from the Federal Government to build and secure native seed and plant supply for landscape restoration, recovery and resilience in bushfire-affected areas and other vulnerable landscapes. Project Phoenix will deliver that commitment.

A key outcome of Project Phoenix is the development of a 10-year roadmap for the Federal Government so that it can respond to future disruption, be it fire, flood or climate change, and make better decisions about the resourcing of landscape restoration required in response.

“The purpose of Project Phoenix is to increase native seed and plant supply in preparation for the restoration of bushfire affected areas and conservation of other valuable habitat,” explains Samantha Craigie, Project Manager.

“We know bushfires will be ongoing. However, we do not know from one year to the next, where the big impacts will be,” says Samantha, “What we are trying to do with Project Phoenix is to build the capacity of the native nursery sector so that when these stochastic events happen, we are in a position to respond.”

“What we are really interested in knowing is where are the nurseries that have capacity and that know how to propagate wild types and manage native seed. The identified businesses will be collated to better understand existing national capacity and opportunities for future scaling-up of the restoration industry,” Samantha continues.

Samantha says that while production for restoration or conservation programs is different to ‘mainstream’ growing, there are many similarities between the two. “You are still producing large volumes of plants and using similar techniques. You are either producing by seed, cuttings or division,” adds Samantha.

Growing opportunities
Samantha says demand for native vegetation will continue to grow as both public and private entities look to sequester carbon and/or offset emissions.

Greening Australia recently partnered with global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the Global EverGreening Alliance to launch the ‘AZ Forest’ project. This privately-funded restoration project aims to plant 25 million trees across Australia by 2025, thereby sequestering approximately 4.25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over a 25-year crediting period (1).

Whilst the Australian Government’s 20 Million Trees Program recently ended, having achieved its target of planting 20 million trees by 2020 (2), the Queensland Government’s $500 million Land Restoration Fund includes up to $100 million for carbon farming projects (3).

Join the Project Phoenix network
“Through Project Phoenix, we want to ensure that the people who are already producing native seed and plants are better enabled through improved tools and training, increased understanding and more effective co-ordination. As demand for environmental restoration increases over time, this may generate opportunities for other people to come into the sector as another means of increasing supply,” Samantha concludes.


If you are a native plant nursery, seed collector, seed producer or seed purchaser (or would like to be), click here to find out how you can join the Project Phoenix network.



References
1.Greening Australia 2020, 'Greening Australia to deliver one of Australia's largest-ever restoration projects, media release, 22 September 2020, viewed 20 November 2020, https://www.greeningaustralia.org.au/greening-australia-to-deliver-one-of-australias-largest-ever-restoration-projects/
2.Australian Government 2020, '20 Million Trees Program', viewed 20 November 2020, http://www.nrm.gov.au/national/20-million-trees
3.Queensland Government 2020, 'About the Land Restoration Fund', The Land Restoration Fund, viewed November 2020, https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/climate/climate-change/land-restoration-fund/about