The Greenbelt Native Plant Center (GNPC), a facility of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, is a 13–acre greenhouse, nursery, and seed bank complex located on Staten Island, NY.
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Long Island Native Grass Initiative
The Greenbelt Native Plant Center is interested in partnering with other regional efforts with similar conservation goals as ours, particularly with those that collect and store local seed for local public projects. We offer assistance in initial organization and training, as well as seed storage in our seed bank.
The Long Island Native Grass Initiative (LINGI), pioneered by the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District, is a cooperative of nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and other concerned individuals, organizations, and businesses on Long Island. Its aim is to preserve the genetic integrity of Long Island grasslands by creating a source of genetically appropriate local grass seed for use in erosion control, wildlife habitat restoration, and landscaping projects.
As Long Island's natural habitats continue to be encroached upon by development and non–native invasive species, it is necessary to recover as much of its open spaces, parklands, and natural areas as possible.
The use of native plants by restoration and landscape professionals has greatly increased in recent years as it becomes evident that plants which have evolved within local ecosystems are best able to thrive under local conditions. However, there are limited sources of native plants for use in grassland restoration or landscaping in Long Island.
LINGI requested advice and training from GNPC. We provided instruction on field identification of the four grass species of focus, and on collection protocols so as to capture genetic diversity. After they collected the necessary seed, GNPC helped with the cleaning and storage of this seed, and propagated starter plants for their founder plots. All of these tasks have now been taken over by LINGI members. We do, however, continue to offer storage of their seed in our seed bank for their future needs.
Long Island Native Plant Initiative
- Suffolk County Soil & Water District
- USDA– Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- Suffolk County Community College
- Long Island Chapter of the Nature Conservancy
- Suffolk County Parks Department, Nassau County Soil & Water Conservation District, Town of East Hampton Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of Hempstead Plains, and others
- Greenbelt Native Plant Center (advisory)
Long Island's flora must endure weather extremes that cause erratic cycles of frost and thaw. The winds can be severe and salty, and much of the soil on the island is dry and sandy. Conditions on Long Island are unique, and restoration of its natural areas must accommodate its harsh environment.
The most cost and time-effective renewal projects incorporate the use of seeds and plants that have, over thousands of years, become genetically programmed to withstand these difficult environmental factors.
To provide bulk seed for grassland restorations, landscaping, roadside plantings, and for nursery stock.
To create a source of locally ecotypic grass seed for Long Island habitat restoration.
- Identification of target species by LINGI.
- GNPC trains LINGI members in collection methods which preserve genetic variability.
- Designation of collection sites.
- Seed collection by members.
- 1,200 plugs of four starter species provided by GNPC.
- LINGI members till, plant plugs, weed, and harvest founder plot seeds.
- First year's harvest of founder seed processed with help of USDA/NRCS Cape May Plant Material Center and GNPC.
- Seed banked at GNPC.
- Year two of seed plots underway.