Vision for native seed bank takes root

Vision for native seed bank takes root

A native seed bank at Warnertown, in South Australia’s Mid North, aims to help return plants and animals to Nukunu land in the Southern Flinders Ranges.

Founder, Uncle Lindsay Thomas from the Nukunu Wapma Thura Aboriginal Corporation, says his vision is to provide immediate bushfire recovery seed stocks and support future cultural burning, along with education and community partnerships.

Thanks to a boost from a Northern and Yorke Landscape Board Grassroots Grant, he is well on his way to achieving his dream of bringing back his “ancestral spirit”.

“I wanted to create a seed bank so that when bushfires happen you can go in and seed it straight after with a direct seeder and return proper native plants to the area,” Uncle Lindsay said. “With that comes back all my totems - all the proper little animals, all the little creatures in the sand, in the soil, in the bushes, trees and waters.”

Uncle Lindsay is realising his vision in partnership with local landholder and wellness tourism business operator Anthony North, Still Earth, Warnertown, who has provided the land for the plantings to occur.

Vision for native seed bank takes root
Nukunu elder Uncle Lindsay Thomas with Still Earth's Anthony North. Credit: Matthew Turner

So far, 11 kilometres of seeds have been planted out, among them 30 quandong trees, and up to 600 native plants – including acacia, saltbush, kangaroo, wallaby and spear grass, melaleuca – have been ordered ready for propagation.

Uncle Lindsay has been working with local native nursery Nuthin’ But Natives at Booleroo Centre, along with Greening Australia who have assisted with collection and planting of seeds using a Franken-Pitter direct seeder.

He said the Grassroots funding had kick-started the project and was excited for the future, including a potential partnership with the Foundation for Parks and Wildlife to expand the seed bank to include a processing unit.

With support from Anthony North, Uncle Lindsay said there was scope to include tourism in the future to help educate visitors about native flora – including bush food and bush medicine - and fauna.

He is also excited about the prospect of partnering with local schools to educate young learners, and hopes to get farmers involved through a series of workshops in the region and support for cultural burning.

“Landowners in the Southern Flinders are very keen to come onboard,” Uncle Lindsay said. “A big goal I’m working towards is to complete cultural burning through the area. These native plants can take a lot of heat, therefore they’re very slow to ignite, unlike some of the introduced plants there at the moment. The idea of the seed bank is that if a bushfire comes through the area, we can move straight in and seed it with native plants.”

Uncle Lindsay said a Grassroots Grant helped him ‘plant the seed’ and his idea was now snowballing toward some positive and exciting outcomes.

“I’ve got the chance to rehabilitate some of my traditional land, which is unbelievable,” he said. “And if I can get it to the stage where we can annually or seasonally cultural burn, that would be amazing. It’s something that’s been a long time coming. I go out and sit on land and I know what’s missing. If we can return some of the plants and bring back these pretty birds singing their magnificent songs, that would be incredible.”