NASSTEC is trying to strengthen the native seed industry, which in Europe is a relatively young sector and characterised by a country-specific level of development. It is also committed to increasing the level of public awareness regarding the ecological principles behind the use of native seeds for restoration and landscaping interventions, and specifically addressing the idea of a certified quality approach. The sector appears to be growing and the growth of demand depends on the end users, increasing when the use of plant material of local origin is accepted as a fundamental tool to preserve the functionality of natural systems and when the users of native seeds have convenient, affordable and reliable access to the quantity and quality of seeds they need.
Many specific adaptations of native seeds present obstacles to seed production and use. Among these characteristics are the uneven germination of seed lots, variable levels of seed viability depending on the conditions experienced year by year by the mother plants, and the uncertain success of seedling establishment in the field. Research is producing data about native seed biological and ecological traits, successful pre-treatments to enhance their germination and their use for restoration activities. In parallel, producers, growers and users of native seeds have huge practical experience and valuable information based on observation of successes and failures deriving from a long practical experience in field work and involvement with technical research and development work.
The challenge faced by NASSTEC is to facilitate dialogue and the transfer of knowledge between industry, practitioners and academia and to direct the research effort towards collaboration with European native seed SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and other producers in order to overcome common obstacles to large-scale production of high quality seeds and to satisfy the demand for native plant material for restoration of degraded ecosystems.
This objective will be realized through outreach and dissemination activities, organisation of ad hoc meetings and especially by creating a networking platform where people working in Europe with native seeds, or expecting to do so in the future, can find and connect to each other.