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Northern Territory reaches collecting targets

Debbie Randall collecting in the Northern Territory
Debbie Randall collecting in the Northern Territory
    Alice Quarmby travelling in a helicopter to collect seeds in more remote areas in the Northern Territory
Alice Quarmby enroute to more remote areas in the Northern Territory to collect seeds

Northern Territory has met its target of 550 new species for the international Millennium Seed Bank Project.

In 2004, the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport became a partner in the international Millennium Seed Bank Project. Their target: to collect seeds of 550 previously uncollected species by the end of 2010.

The seed-hunting team, headed by Seed Bank Curator for the NT government, Alice Quarmby, has collected seeds throughout the territory – even flying in a helicopter to get to remote locations. Their trips ranged from one day to a fortnight, camping out in national parks.

Alice says the team’s most rewarding trip was in 2009. ‘We drove 1200 kilometres from Alice Springs to Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) with a team of just three people,’ she says. ‘On the first few days we averaged 15 collections per day. By the end of the trip, we were exhausted, but had collected over 90 new species – which is almost our yearly target in one go.’

Despite being a very small team, Alice says they have worked extremely hard and are proud to have reached their target. And, although the six-year partnership with the Millennium Seed Bank is drawing to a close, she believes much more work still needs to be done. ‘Many rare, threatened and endemic species have still not been collected,’ she says.