Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - NASSTEC (The NAtive Seed Science, TEchnology and Conservation Initial Training Network)

In the European context, the native seed industry has a large unexpressed potential, facing an increasing demand for native seeds for grassland restoration, which it is not capable to meet. The native seed companies are mostly disconnected from the academic sector and often lack key knowledge on critical aspect of seed biology. In the US and Australia the native seed industry is much more developed supporting a multi-million dollar market. NASSTEC - The Native Seed Science, Technology and Conservation Initial Training Network - brings together 4 academic institutions and 3 seed producers from Italy, the UK Spain and The Netherlands to promote a more effective industry-academia interaction and technology transfer aiming at facilitating the development of a stronger European market.
NASSTEC will train at PhD level and deliver the human resources required by the nascent native seed industry in Europe, ensuring high quality seed sourcing and production. This will help identify, consolidate and improve existing technology platforms across Europe. Thanks to its multidisciplinary approach, NASSTEC will develop joint network products, including a species selection tool, a germination information database, guidelines for the production and use of native seeds and a proposal for a quality certification scheme. The scientific and training programmes embrace 12 research topics, clustered under three sub programmes: A) In situ seed sampling; B) Seed biology characterisation; and C) Production and deployment of seed. A parallel outreach programme will engage all key stakeholders and the public, with 3 demonstrative pilot projects and a series of outreach activities.
NASSTEC is now half way through its life cycle and the fellows are equally half way though their PhD programme. During its first two years the NASSTEC consortium recruited synchronously 11 ESRs among 225 applicants and 1 ER among 22 applicants. The recruiting procedure enforced the European Code of Conduct for Recruitment of Researchers with a transparent and impartial procedure. The 12 successful applicants have a gender balance of 4 male and 8 female, originating from 7 different countries: 3 Spanish and 3 Italians, two Canadians, one American, one Croatian, one Portuguese and one Sri-Lankan.
So far NASSTEC implemented a strong training programme with two Annual General Meeting, one University Induction Course, 2 specialist workshops on Molecular Ecology and Business Models and 1 summer school on Seed Collecting; the fellows are jointly contributing to 3 demonstrative pilot project restoring grasslands in 3 sites in each biogeographical region covered by the project. Strategically located sites have been selected in Italy, Spain and the UK, prepared for seeding and sown in autumn 2015, now with many native plants actively growing. The fellows are enjoying mobility throughout the network, having already spent on average 25% of their time across the network or at conferences.
To date the project produced a total of 3 publications, 2 workshops, 1 panel discussion, 13 oral presentations, 26 poster presentations and 3 stands delivered at 22 conferences and courses plus 2 TV and 1 radio interview. This dissemination effort involved 64 individual contributions. Six issues of the quarterly newsletters have been produced. As far as outreach is concerned, 6 IBSE (Inquiry Based Science Education) activities have been designed to promote NASSTEC in schools and 8 ESRs manned a NASSTEC info point at 3 events and at the 2nd Marie Curies Conference (ENGRES - 2014). A special mention for Malaka Wijayasinghe who already archived a peer reviewed publication and for Matias Hernández who won the award for best poster presented at the 6th World Conference on Ecological Restoration held in Manchester in August 2015. On a more global level the coordinator introduced the project to a selection of key audiences, arguing for the need of a global networking initiative for native seeds, in a workshop run at the US Native Seed Conference held in Santa Fe (NM, USA) 13-16 April 2015. This idea gained the support of key scientists from all continents and was formalised at the SER2015 in Manchester with the official launch of the International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR - where NASSTEC fellow Stephanie Frischie covers the key position of network Secretary.
Among the next NASSTEC upcoming events, the outreach workshop will play a critical role for the project future impact in Europe. Planned for September 2016 in Trento, it will provide a forum for native seed producers, invited from many European countries (Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain) to discuss the needs of the native seed industry and the outlook in the European market. It will give a preview of NASSTEC outputs and pave the way for future developments at European level. The final conference in Kew planned for September 2017 will offer an opportunity to present native seed science for grassland restoration to a wider international audience, with the support of the Society for Ecological Restoration enjoying keynotes from US and Australia.
New opportunities emerged during the first two years of the project and were discussed at meeting and congresses. Among the others, the development of a European wide seed zoning system based on a regional biogeographical scale rather than on a national basis; a joint European native seeds quality certification scheme and a joint database of native seed producers and species in production available on-line as a global hub where producers and users alike could refer. NASSTEC will also contribute to develop a stronger European trade association, cultivating active interconnections between EU native seed producers, that will benefit for a wider European perspective.
With Germany going native by 2020 for grassland restoration activities (thanks to a new national legislation), other European countries are likely to pass similar regulations in the future, creating a favourable context and many new opportunities for native seed producers and in this context NASSTEC outputs will play a key contribution to drive a knowledge-based development of native seed producers. In this context, NASSTEC will play a pivotal role in harmonising the native seed industry at European level, ensuring industry-academia integration and driving a wider uptake of the use of native seeds in Environmental restoration. Ultimately creating a win-win situation, facilitating the development of a larger market for native seeds, fostering the development of new companies, new jobs and at the same time protecting the environment and enhancing ecosystem services.

Contact details:
Trento Science Museum
Corso del lavoro e della scienza, 3
38122 Trento (Italy)
Tel. +39 0461 270 311

Please find project logo and 1 key picture in attachments A and B

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Life Sciences
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