The Challenge: For the first time in our history as a nation we are on the verge of witnessing the complete elimination of numerous grassland ecosystems. Nearly 500,000-acres of tallgrass prairie once existed in eastern Arkansas—now more than 99.9% gone; >1.2 million-acres of prairie and savanna in western Kentucky and Tennessee—gone; 100,000’s of acres of savanna in central North Carolina—nearly gone. We are also witnessing the rapid collapse of species once common just 50 years ago, namely bobwhite quail, Monarch butterfly, and the rusty patch bumblebee. The declines in these species is ultimately due to the loss of grasslands. If we have any hope whatsoever of really saving these species then we must save Southern grasslands. If we are to truly conserve the grassland species we have now and protect and enhance grassland habitat for generations to come, then we must begin systematically seedbanking across the various types of Southern grasslands. We also need to ensure that seeds of rare species are banked as an insurance policy in case populations are lost.
SGI's Role: SGI, in partnership with the Seeds of Success (SOS) Program, the national native seed collection initiative, will embark on a mission to collect wildland native seed to serve as source material for restoration projects for restoring and supporting resilient ecosystems.
Roundstone Native Seed (Munfordville, KY) is a developing partner of SGI. The seeds collected through SGI will be cleaned by Roundstone. Together we will work jointly to develop regionally-adapted (local genotype) seed sources for each of the major ecoregions of the Southeast. These seeds will, in turn, be available to meet the demands of restoration in each ecoregion.