NATIONAL INDIGENOUS SEED BANK PROJECT
Saving Seeds for
Indigenous people hold complex ecological knowledge about different bush foods and plant medicine species.
The National Indigenous Seed Bank (NISB) is a living archive of bio-intelligence: seeds, and the knowledge, stories and techniques to harvest, prepare and store bush plant resources.
Our primary focus is on improving the genetic diversity of our collections held in First Nation community seed banks, as well as improving the usability of those collections, making them available for restoration, research and small-scale Indigenous enterprises across Australia
NISB is at the core of our conservation efforts, and serves as a repository for seeds, guarded in a safe environment. The importance of collecting seeds has become more urgent as biodiversity is challenged with pests, land development and climate change. Local, regional and global food security depends on this diversity. The seed bank's primary function is to conserve this genetic diversity for future generations, and to ensure a vibrant selection of varieties for regional bush food operations.
GRASSES & GRAINS
The First Nations peoples of Australia have been consuming the grain from native grasses for thousands of generations. In some regions, these grasses formed the basis of the traditional economy. There is now burgeoning interest - from First Nations people and farmers, to restaurateurs and researchers - in these ancient grains.
Australia's trees are some of the most diverse and distinct species on the planet. NISB and the SeedKeepers Network supports seed-collecting expeditions in order to gather the tree varieties across the different bio-regions of Australia. NISB is working to collect and preserve the seeds, as well as documenting the intricate relationships between the tree varieties, the landscape and the people.
Archeological evidence suggests over 200 different species of plants have been utilized as bush food by indigenous communities. The NISB and the SeedKeepers cultural archive project combines traditional knowledge and cultural heritage with an aim to reinvigorate the use of these culturally, ecologically and economically important species.
For over 65,000 years, plants have been used for medicinal purposes, and Australia's unique flora has provided Indigenous people with a wide variety of medicines. The National Indigenous Seed Bank is working to gather, store and preserve not just the seeds of these useful plant medicines, but also the location, proper preparation and use of these botanicals.
Community Seed Banks
The use of plants for medicine and food extends back to earliest recorded history. Archeological evidence indicates traditional indigenous people inhabited Australia for over 65,000 years, nourished by traditional flora and fauna. Many of these plants contain useful substances that remain the basis for a large proportion of foods & medicines used today. Interest in these traditional botanical varieties is growing around the world. NISB has been entrusted to operate the seed bank and cultural media archive to help preserve and share this knowledge.
What we know of the plants, we have learned from the elders - they all knew about the plants - how to grow them, when they are ready for harvest, and how we can use and prepare them.
What we know belongs to them, to these ancient cultures and their traditions. It belongs to the indigenous people of Australia.
Seed quality is influenced by a number of key factors in the field during and after harvest. For groups who are a part of the SeedKeepers network, there is ongoing training throughout the year, as well as support for wild seed harvest. Co-op members are provided information, access to media archives, documentation and support relating to all aspects of community seed banking protocols.
Community Seed Registers
The purpose of the community seed registry is to promote conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity. SeedKeepers has developed and manages the Indigenous People’s Biodiversity Register, a document which records diversity of flora and fauna across Indigenous lands in the different bio-regions of Australia.
The Register contains comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal, food or any other use or traditional knowledge associated with them.
NISB's curation actions include the digitizing and databasing of plant species,
including seed conservation, geo-mapping, seed exchange, and the establishment of the community seed register. Community Seed Registers provide strong documentation invalidating corporate claims to seed, traditional product or germ-plasm, commonly known as Biopiracy.
A living evolving gene bank
With a focus on long-term viability of native seeds, SeedKeepers continues to evolve our capacity for ecological restoration and cultural resilience. With lab, greenhouse and field trials as part of our conservation and restoration practices,
The National Indigenous Seed Bank is committed to setting the standards for best practices in seed preservation and bio-cultural knowledge, the respect of the elders who are the custodians of this knowledge, the quality and detail of the knowledge documented and the presentation of the archives and records.
The National Indigenous Seed Bank (NISB) is a living, evolving system of human communities in an intricate relationship with their territory, cultural or agricultural landscape and wider social environment.
What is Bio-Piracy?
Biopiracy refers to the use of intellectual property systems to legitimize the exclusive ownership and control over biological resource and biological products and processes that have been used over centuries in non-industrialized cultures. Patent claims over biodiversity and indigenous knowledge that are based on the innovation, creativity and genius of the Indigenous people of the World are acts of 'biopiracy'. Since a 'patent' is given for invention, a biopiracy patent denies the innovation embodied in indigenous knowledge. The rush to grant patents and reward invention has led corporations and governments in the industrialized world to ignore the centuries of cumulative, collective innovation of generations of remote indigenous communities.
The Oldest Foods on Earth
Indigenous Australians have inhabited Australia for tens of thousands of years. In this time, indigenous people have developed a close relationship with the environment. Such knowledge and nurturing has been the result of generations of skill and development, passed on through the years and continuously improving. This great body of Indigenous knowledge includes knowledge of sites and areas; the medicinal and nutritional values of a wide range of Australian plants and animals; land management practices and customs and traditions, and Australian natural wild flavours.
The plants of the Central deserts are the oldest continuous food and medicine sources on earth and have sustained humanity for over 65,000 years.
The National Indigenous Seed Bank project provides Aboriginal communities with innovation and world leading best practice programs in community seed banking and media archive management - empowering remote communities to preserve and maintain traditional knowledge and genetic biodiversity.
We believe that within a few decades, traditional bushfoods could play a significant role in global food security.
Identification of food species from among 100's of plant species in an area
Curation of media resources and andio and video archives on seed collection, geo-location mapping, plant uses, preparation, and nutritional value
Seed drying, labeling, long-term storage and germination
Ensuring future ecological security
SeedKeeping has been an intrinsic part of life in traditional communities across Australia for tens of thousands of years. The elders see themselves as custodians, as stewards of the bio-intelligence and genetic diversity that abounds in nature.
NISB's Community seed bank network is actively developing the conservation network and funding required to underpin future collection activities and to maximize the effectiveness of the collections. The purpose-built Seed Bank facility is a key part of the strategy for long-term conservation, viability and future utilization by indigenous communities across the country, as well as increasing local native food production and reviving Indigenous agricultural and traditional culinary practices.
Discover the Future of Ancient Wisdom
SeedKeepers serves as a central hub for First Nation's bush food and native plant resources and information, helping to further develop Australian bush food farming enterprises.
Our seed mapping survey provides valuable information on genetic diversity, how these plants were used by people in the community, and where these species can be found. The assessment also reveals whether the most interesting varieties are still available. The seed mapping exercise also provokes dialog and discussion in the community and fosters a deep sense of participation.
ETHICAL PRACTICES & PARTICIPATORY INVENTORY
Our approach is to cultivate a sense of pride and empowerment of ownership of Traditional cultural practices and biological diversity. The spiritual, creative, political and biological resources that Indigenous people can draw from our community gives dignity to those that share, through recreating and reconnecting vital relationships across communities.
COMMERCIAL BUSH FOOD RESEARCH
Aboriginal food and plant experts from communities across the region continue to generously contribute their knowledge of land management, botany, bush food cuisine and traditional medicines.
The majority of our seed collections are focused on the germ-plasm and bio-cultural knowledge related to bush tucker, both food and medicinals.
TRADITIONAL CULTURAL IP
Traditional Indigenous cultural knowledge and cosmologies are regenerating communities across Australia. Our approach to creating a living storehouse of traditional knowledge and biological resources was conceived to give expression to protect, preserve and give expression to Indigenous worldviews. We are working closely with stakeholders to ensure proper protections and shared benefit are at the core of our approach.
ONLINE RESEARCH & EDUCATION PORTAL
To become a member of the NISB co-op, or to find out how to get started with your own community-based seed bank. Contact our team:
email us at:
info (at) nisb.com.au
Available Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm EST
One of our SeedKeepers team can be available for media interviews, keynote talks and educational events and conferences.
email us at:
media (at) nisb.com.au