The European native seed industry: Characterization and perspectives in grassland restoration
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© 2017 by the authors. The European Union committed to restore 15% of degraded ecosystems by 2020, and to comply with this goal, native plant material, such as seeds, is needed in large quantities. The native seed production of herbaceous species plays a critical role in supplying seed for restoration of a key ecosystem: grasslands. The objective of this work is to provide for the first time a characterization of the sector at a multi-country European level together with key information about the community of native seed users via intensive web-based research and a direct survey of industry participants. Based on more than 1300 contacts and direct surveying of more than 200 stakeholders across Europe, responses indicated that: the European native seed industry consists primarily of small to medium enterprises; responding native seed users purchase annually an average of 3600 kg of seeds with an average expenditure of €17,600; the industry (suppliers and consumers) favours development of seed zones and would participate in a European network for knowledge sharing. This study provides framework principles that can guide decisions in this sector, critical for fulfilling the growing demand for native seed as a primary tool for large-scale restoration on the continent.
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