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History of the ANPC

Reproduced with permission from CBCN Newsletter, the newsletter of the Canadian Botanical Conservation Network, Volume 3, Number 2, June 1998.

The Australian Network for Plant Conservation and Threatened Plant Germplasm Conservation

Jeanette Mill
National Coordinator
Australian Network for Plant Conservation

I read with interest the lead article in the March 1998 issue of CBCN Newsletter, Seed Banks for Endangered Plant Species, by David Galbraith.

As the Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC) has tackled the issue of conservation of threatened plant germplasm generally, I thought it would be useful to share the Network’s experience with CBCN.

Background to the ANPC

The ANPC was formed in the wake of the release of the IUCN World Conservation Strategy (1980) and the Botanic Gardens Conservation Strategy (1989). A conference was held to discuss plant conservation in Australasia, stimulated by a survey of living collections of endangered plants in Australia by the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

It emerged that there was a great need for coordination of collections, and also a broader need for coordination generally, across in situ and ex situ conservation, and across all players - government, industry and community. With the benefit of the experience of Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the Center for Plant Conservation, the ANPC was established in 1991.

A major aim of the ANPC is the integration of all approaches to plant conservation. Membership of the Network includes botanic gardens, conservation agencies, mining companies, community groups (Landcare, Society for Growing Australian Plants), researchers, local government, power authorities and farmers.

The National Endangered Flora Collection

A first step in coordination of expertise and collections was the National Endangered Flora Collection (NEFC). This documents the endangered flora collections held as plants, seed or other form of stored germplasm by ANPC members. The listings published to date indicate which taxa members are growing, whether they are of wild, cultivated or unknown origin, and whether there is propagation material available. Collecting guidelines are also published in the document.

The role of the NEFC is to:

  • provide a source of propagation material to assist in recovery of species (where appropriate);
  • reduce pressure on wild populations by enabling material to be sourced from existing collections of known wild origin;
  • facilitate research into the propagation and biology of species;
  • provide an information and resource base;
  • encourage and assist the development of management programs for endangered species in the wild;
  • enable rationalisation and coordination across collections (avoiding duplication, assisting in identification of collection priorities);
  • provide a source of plant material for education and interpretation;
  • document a broad range of collections.

The NEFC is further evolving to include a ranking system to indicate the quality of material held, in terms of identification, vouchering and known origin.

Conservation Guidelines

At the 1993 ANPC conference members passed a resolution to develop Germplasm Conservation Guidelines for Australia. Experts from across Australia formed a working group to produce this “how to” manual for conservation practitioners. (A working group was also formed to produce Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia.)

The Guidelines have been supported by the Standing Committee on Conservation of the Australia and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (the Council of Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Ministers). They have been published, and over 500 copies of each have been distributed nationally and internationally.

Users of the publications include landcare groups, botanic gardens, conservation agencies, recovery teams and road authorities. The Guidelines will be promoted to encourage their use in the activities of the large and very diverse range of groups working on the conservation of Australian flora.

To order a copy of any ANPC publications, please see the publications page.

Information

As information collection and management is an integral component of conservation collection management (and plant conservation activities generally), a working group was also formed to establish standards for monitoring, record keeping and databasing for plant conservation.

This working group has prepared recommendations which will guide the future development of the NEFC and the ANPC. A directory will point members to sources of information such as databases. In the case of collections, collection holders will maintain their own records, the ANPC assisting with guidelines for information collection and management.

Training

A further aspect to the ANPC’s approach is the development of the Plant Conservation Techniques Course. This course brings together current expertise from Australia and the region, to train a range of practitioners. Germplasm conservation techniques are a component of the multifaceted course.

Conference

The third ANPC National Conference in 1997 devoted plenary and workshop sessions to germplasm conservation. Sessions included application of germplasm research in mine rehabilitation, tissue culture, community involvement in germplasm collection and storage, and smoke germination of seed. Resolutions from the conference workshops can be found on the ANPC website (see contact details below), and proceedings will be published.

For more information:

The ANPC produces a quarterly newsletter Danthonia. For further information about any of the above, please contact us.

References

Australian Network for Plant Conservation 1993, The National Endangered Flora Collection, A Conservation Resource, 1st edition, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Canberra, Australia.

Australian Network for Plant Conservation Germplasm Working Group 1997, Germplasm Conservation Guidelines for Australia, An Introduction to the Principles and Practises for Seed and Germplasm Banking of Australian Species, eds D Touchell, M Richardson and K Dixon, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Canberra.

Australian Network for Plant Conservation Translocation Working Group 1997, Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Canberra.

Conservation of Rare or Threatened Plants in Australasia, Proceedings of the Conference “Protective Custody - Ex Situ Plant Conservation in Australasia”, March 1991, 1992 eds G Butler, L Meredith, & M Richardson. Australian National Botanic Gardens, Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra, Australia.

Integrated Plant Conservation in Australia: Proceedings of the First National Conference of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation, “Cultivating Conservation: Integrated Plant Conservation for Australia”, Hobart, December 1993, 1995, ed. L Meredith, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Canberra, Australia.

IUCN 1980, The World Conservation Strategy, IUCN, Gland.

IUCN-BGCS, 1989, The Botanic Gardens Conservation Strategy, IUCN-BGCS, WWF, Gland.

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