This Handbook is a product of the NAtive Seed Science, TEchnology and Conservation (NASSTEC) Initial Training Network which was part of the EU FP7 People-Work Programme. The Programme aims to develop and consolidate the European Research Area (ERA) by strengthening, quantitatively and qualitatively, the human potential of the research and technology infrastructure, particularly through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. These Actions enable researchers in the public and private sectors (SMEs) to work individually and as a network, thus ensuring the transfer of knowledge between sectors and the development of intellectual property. In the case of NASSTEC, inter-disciplinary research, training, career development and knowledge sharing aimed to significantly enhance understanding of the functional ecology of native seeds and their environment. NASSTEC has taken a systems-based approach to the restoration of degraded environments based on the use of native species in environmental mitigation and adaptation strategies to counteract the negative impacts of land use change (e.g. mining, construction, tourism, etc.) or natural environmental events (e.g. wild fire). The focus on locally adapted species, rather than non-native flora, has ensured maximal renewal and sustainability of ecosystem services and avoided the threat posed by invasiveness. Industry-academia collaboration supports significant national, native seed/plant trade markets of more than $ 250 million a year both in the USA and Australia. However, the European native seed market has remained largely underdeveloped, mainly due to the existence of only a few small-scale operations that tend to operate independently, are detached from the academic sector and lacking in baseline knowledge on key species of interest, ecologically and commercially. Consequently, this European market is less than 2% of that of the USA and Australia (i.e. few millions Euros). NASSTEC has laid the foundations for an expansion of the nascent seed production industry, by providing trained technologists and developing robust quality assurance systems (including seed quality assessment and certification) through interactions with SMEs. In so doing, NASSTEC has contributed to the European bio-economy.
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