There are major limitations to traditional restoration-by-hand actions such as the lack of large quantities of wild seed availability and the inconvenience of collecting seed in the field. A seed orchard is an intensively-managed plantation of specifically arranged trees for the mass production of genetically improved seeds to create plants, or seeds for the establishment of new forests.
Producing native seeds ex situ (offsite) on a seed orchard, urban garden, or farm has been proven to reduce costs, harvesting effort, and provide a controlled environment for production, compared to relying solely on wild in situ seed sources for restoration activities. NES established a seed orchard to grown native plants for seed production and use the harvested seed in native plant propagation hydroseed restoration services. It is important to develop a protocol for maintaining appropriate genetic representation within each species in a seed orchard production. Overall, the goal of a seed orchard is to represent the naturally occurring genetic diversity to ensure genetic fitness and have high survivorship of plants when they are reintroduced into the wild after planting.