From the desk of Karl, Ballogup/ Project Officer Lake Pleasant View.   

Gnowangerup Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) Rangers recently took part in a study tour, enabling them to tap into knowledge that will help them operate a nursery focusing on native plant propagation. Karl and Twigg from the South Coast NRM Cultural Heritage team joined five GAC Rangers on a journey to Perth and surrounding areas to broaden their knowledge of native seed collection, identification, treatment, and propagation.

For three days, the Rangers visited several plant breeding, nursery, and seed production facilities, all with expertise in propagation of native plant species. The group visited the Aboriginal Research Centre at Curtin University, Kings Park Botanical Authority, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) seed laboratories in Kensington, and the Nuts for Natives nursery near Mandurah.

At Kings Park, staff showed the Rangers how over 5,000 species are grown from seed, most of which are then put on show at Kings Park. The Rangers were provided a tour of the facility where they learnt how seed is harvested, grown, and supplied for niche markets. Dr Andrew Crawford’s team at the DBCA’s Kensington seed labs spent the whole day showing the Rangers the ins and outs of seed propagation. The Rangers learned by experience of sorting seeds and checking their viability, even viewing high-end techniques used to extend the life of seeds by up to 40 years.

Friday’s schedule involved a visit to Nuts About Natives, where Rangers were shown how simple techniques were used to develop high quality, difficult to grow species. A highlight was witnessing successful growth of South Coast threatened flora. The objective was to learn as much as possible about seed collection, identification, treatment, and propagation methods for the fledgling nursery at Gnowangerup, operated by GAC.

The study tour concluded with a visit to the Curtin University Aboriginal Research Centre (ARC) for Healing Country. Rangers met with Director Professor Stephen van Leeuwen and Deputy Director Dr Andrew Knight, to see state of the art seed laboratory facilities. The Curtin team provided a first-class tour of the facility, and gladly took questions and shared information with the Rangers. An unexpected outcome was positive discussion around potential partnership projects based on ‘biocultural regional planning” and a pilot program to offer specialised seed collection training to Aboriginal enterprises. Key learnings on how the GAC Rangers could develop and apply simple techniques at the Gnowangerup nursery were taken on board throughout the week.

IMAGE 1. GAC Rangers with the South Coast NRM Cultural Heritage Team and Curtin University ARC Healing Country staff. 

IMAGE 2: Kings Park Botanical Authority seed & seedling nursery.  

IMAGE 3. GAC Rangers with the team from Nuts About Natives.