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NWT Native Seed Development Project: Moving Towards Local Seeds for Local Remediation
Native plant species have the potential to be successful in the reclamation of northern habitats, because they are well adapted to local climatic conditions. This allows for better long-term survival, and fewer maintenance and fertilizer requirements. In the NWT, there has been a long recognized need for a source of native plant materials for reclamation purposes. Using native plant species for revegetation of disturbed habitats will help to maintain ecological integrity, natural successional processes, wildlife habitat, and environmental aesthetics.
Despite the recognition of the ecological benefits carried by native plant seeds, there is still no commercial source of plant materials native to the NWT. In response to this, ARI initiated the NWT Native Seed Development Project with two main objectives:
- The collection, testing, and development of technology for propagating native plant species that would be suitable for use in reclamation and revegetation in the NWT.
- The eventual commercial release of native seed varieties appropriate for the biophysical regions of the NWT and Canada’s north.
Seed collections took place across the NWT with over 60 species being collected. These seeds were subsequently used in field trials at the Inuvik Community Greenhouse, and later at an agricultural site in Hay River.
Seeds were collected from across the NWT over several summers. Germination trials and field trials followed to assess seed performance and identify which collections might be prioritized for further development. Seed volume was increased for collections of note. A market assessment was conducted for all three territories to provide context for a NWT seed commercialization strategy, and cultivation training was carried out in partnership with NWT growers. Germination trials and field trials are ongoing, and a population genetics study is also underway.
Seed collection took place across the NWT from 2005 to 2008 in late summer and early fall. Germination trials following each collection season, and continue to date, to track the viability of each seed collection. Field trials were initiated in Inuvik in 2006, expanded in 2014, and are still going. The market assessment and commercialization strategy were completed in 2011. Cultivation training plots were established in the South Slave region from 2012-2015 with workshops offered each growing season. Efforts to see NWT-sourced seeds used in NWT reclamation projects continue. A population genetics study took place in 2018.
GNWT Industry, Tourism, and Investment
Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada
Inuvik Community Greenhouse
Territorial Farmers Association
Mining, and Oil and Gas Industry Stakeholders
Land reclamatoin, native plants, revegetation, succession, agriculture, botany