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Crop Wild Relatives Seed Conservation Training

Aerial shot of the floodplains near the East Alligator River in Kakadu National Park, S. Greenaway DoEE

The Australian Seed Bank Partnership last week delivered seed conservation techniques training in Kakadu National Park. Experts from the Australian Grains Genebank, Australian National Botanic Gardens and George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens joined Kakadu National Park Rangers to deliver training to Kakadu’s traditional owners and scientists from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

The project team moved south from Jabiru to the Mary River region to collect seed from crop wild relatives such as Sorghum, Cajanus and Vigna. The training covered aspects of plant identification and seed collection, as well as techniques for cleaning, drying and storing seed in the field. The team used a modified version of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership's drum kits to ensure collections arrive at seed banks throughout Australia and the Millennium Seed Bank in the best possible condition for research and long-term ex situ conservation.                                                          

Access and benefit sharing arrangements are an important consideration for the project as Kakadu National Park is jointly managed by the Australian Government and traditional owners. Research for the commercialisation of genetic material from seed collected from Kakadu National Park will require approval under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) as well as the support of the Kakadu Board of Management. It is essential that this project and future crop wild relative collecting throughout Australia be supported by meaningful access and benefit sharing agreements that ensure the benefits of commercialising genetic material flow back to the Indigenous communities from whose country seed is collected.

As our collectors return from the Northern Territory we will share some of the more interesting images and seed collections on our Facebook page. Hopefully this is the first of many Crop Wild Relative projects the ASBP will deliver over the coming years. Funding for this project was provided by the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership with support from the Crop Trust and Simon Foundation. The Australian Grains Genebank will also be delivering lab based training for the international participants with additional funding provided by the Crawford Foundation.

Image: Aerial shot of the floodplains near the East Alligator River in Kakadu NP World Heritage Listed site (Image: S Greenaway, DoEE).