WASHINGTON, DC—The USDA Forest Service frequently provides international technical assistance and capacity building in support of native plant nurseries. In an ongoing effort to meet the global need for high-quality, sustainably produced native plant seedlings to address local ecological and economic challenges, shared practices are being used across an informal network of nurseries around the world. Based on the “Target Plant Concept," these nurseries use local plant material to align biologically superior seedlings with practices needed to overcome environmental and operational barriers to post-planting survival and growth.
In collaboration with Oregon State University, the Forest Service recently co-sponsored a study tour in Cape Town, South Africa, for 10 nursery practitioners from Lebanon, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Togo and Morocco. This study tour is part of a collaborative program with a variety of international nursery practitioners to critically examine restoration practices, exchange experiences and enrich forest nursery practices through field visits and interactive discussions. The study tour was intended to formalize the network of nurseries by fostering a community of practice and to create a shared space for peer support in addressing procurement, operational, biological and environmental challenges.
The study tour included a focused workshop, as well as participation in the World Conference on Ecological Restoration. Instructors included agency personnel affiliated with the National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetics Resources: research plant physiologists Kas Dumroese and Jeremy Pinto from the Rocky Mountain Research Station and western nursery specialist Diane Haase from the Pacific Northwest Regional office. The National Center for RNGR is a cross-deputy Forest Service program whose mission is to supply people who grow forest and conservation seedlings with current technical information and to provide links to other organizations and individuals with similar interests. Additional instructors were research soil scientist Deborah Page-Dumroese, Rocky Mountain Research Station; nursery and restoration consultant Karma Bouazza, Lebanon Reforestation Initiative; and workshop leader and post-doctoral scholar Rebecca Sheridan from Oregon State University.