Stakeholders' Perceptions of Native Plants and Local Ecotypes in Ecological Restoration
Abstract

ABSTRACT:

Many scientists and land managers recommend using local ecotypes for restoration projects. However, there is not a scientific consensus on what constitutes "local." To gain information about production and use of locally sourced plant material, we surveyed two stakeholder groups, conservation professionals and nursery professionals, to learn if there were differences between these stakeholder groups in terms of use, sale, or perception of native and local ecotype plant material. Our survey results indicated that both conservation and nursery professionals are aware of the ecological and functional value of native plant communities, and are also familiar with associated plant sourcing issues. However, nursery professionals provide less local ecotype and source-certified plant material in their businesses than would meet the need expressed by conservation professionals for these materials. Conservation professionals also indicated that their organizations did not necessarily have specific guidelines for sourcing local ecotype native plant material. Although nursery professionals are aware of restoration techniques and the usefulness of local ecotypes, this does not appear to translate into provision of larger quantities of native, local ecotype, or source-certified plant material. We found that members of both stakeholder groups rely on trusted authorities and professional training for information, presenting an opportunity to reach both groups through combined workshops to encourage communication and facilitate availability of native plants for restoration.