Plant conservation is a complicated field because the causes of endangerment are themselves complex. There are a number of ways that gardens and other institutions attempt to safeguard species and increase population numbers. Following best practices is important because it allows for consistency and, ideally, should help prevent conservation efforts from doing more harm than good.
Seed collection must balance the benefits of storing seed and propagating plants with the plants’ own need to replenish natural populations. The Center for Plant Conservation’s CPC Seed Collection Guidelines provide a protocol intended to avoid collecting too many seeds and stressing populations’ ability to naturally regenerate themselves.
The Forest Service has guidelines for seed collection.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) has published several training modules, including one on seed collection. It covers planning a seed collection, prioritisation and pre-collection assessment, seed collection, post-collection cleaning, drying, and storage, germination and dormancy, and data management.
Here’s a nice set of guidelines from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
The Center for Plant Conservations Best Reintroduction Practice Guidelines are the gold standard for reintroductions and are the basis for the SCPCA’s reintroduction policy. These guidelines consider such issues as wild population size, state of habitat, existing threats, land ownership, legality, etc. Reintroducing a species to the wild is not undertaken lightly or without a firm plan.
The CPC has been refining its thoughts on reintroduction over the years. This review article takes a look at some of the specifics of this developing field.