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Australasian Plant Conservation

Australasian Plant Conservation 13(3), December 2004 - February 2005, pages 4-5

Workshop marathon in South East Queensland

'Great diversity of topics, issues and presenters', 'good coverage of the breadth of aspects involved in rehabilitation, including where to source information', 'amazing' - these were some of the evaluation responses provided by the participants in three recent ANPC workshops.

Designed for SEQ

Between 28 November and 4 December 2004, the ANPC, in association with the Queensland Herbarium, ran three workshops designed specifically for South East Queensland. A three-day workshop on 'Approaches and Techniques for the Rehabilitation of Native Vegetation' was held at the University of Queensland's Gatton campus and repeated at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha. Each of these workshops included a one-day field trip to local rehabilitation sites.

The companion workshop on the 'Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia' was also held at the Botanic Gardens, and included some participants from the rehabilitation workshop. This was the fifth translocation workshop ANPC has run, with the core group of presenters being the authors of the revised 'Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia'. Four local presenters detailed case studies from South East Queensland.

Structure and content

Numerous practitioners and researchers from South East Queensland helped design the rehabilitation workshops, which revolved around planning a rehabilitation project. With a well-considered plan as a core focus, the sessions were grouped into four main stages:

Stage 1: 'Knowing your vegetation remnant': This stage included 'sources and resources' of existing information, and demonstrations of techniques to reveal more about the site (mapping, plant identification software, monitoring and soils) and techniques to assess the quality, condition and recovery capacity of the remnant.

Stage 2: 'Assessing and determining the rehabilitation task': The key message in this session was on defining the project goal in context of the site and its potential, as well as the desires and needs of the community involved.

Stage 3: 'Developing the rehabilitation plan': This stage discussed the many issues to be considered and the details to be included in the plan, such as identifying impacts, risks, implications of actions, resources, monitoring and evaluating, flexible planning, consultation and communication.

Some of the science critical to the planning process was also discussed, including the ecology of remnants, conservation genetics, provenance, fire management and experimental techniques.

Stage 4: 'Monitoring, monitoring and more monitoring': This session argued that monitoring should be an integral part of a rehabilitation project. A case study demonstrated some of the difficulties encountered in designing useful monitoring that could be repeated by people not involved in the original project.

Following the above rehabilitation planning stages, a session on funding and forming partnerships included the uplifting claim that there is more money available for community projects 'than there has ever been'.

'Reality checks'

Case studies gave life to many of the topics being discussed, and provided useful insights. Several panel discussions enabled participants to delve deeper into some topics or to raise specific issues and queries. 

Evaluation scores after the workshops averaged 8 or 9 out of 10 for all questions on the evaluation form across all three workshops. For 'value for money', one participant gave a score of 11 while another gave 12! The 'preferred topics' reads like a list of the workshop topics with no clear winners or losers. Some useful suggestions for other topics, issues and approaches will be considered in future workshop development.

Accreditation for workshop participation

For the first time, accreditation was offered to ANPC workshop participants, in association with the Registered Training Organisation Hortus Australia. Participation can contribute to nationally recognised qualifications under the Conservation and Land Management Training Package. Twenty-three people took up this offer.

Thanks and more thanks

Heartfelt thanks to the 35 very generous presenters who made these three workshops possible! These included practitioners and researchers from environmental consultancies, industry, Landcare, Greening Australia, State and Local Government, regional bodies, universities and CRCs. Most presenters gave sessions at both rehabilitation workshops and two presented at all three workshops. Many also participated fully in other workshop sessions.

The 138 participants came from a similar range of organisations, as well as private practitioners and enthusiasts. Many of the participants could have run sessions themselves, as their skills and experience were rich and diverse. A bonus for all involved was the exchange of ideas and networking.

Support for these workshops was provided by a Natural Heritage Trust Envirofund grant, with substantial in-kind support from our project partner, the Queensland Herbarium (Environment Protection Agency) under the leadership of Gordon Guymer. Ralph Dowling, a principal botanist with the Herbarium, took on much of the organisation with gusto, and his professionalism contributed enormously to the success of the workshops. Ross McKinnon, Director of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, generously provided the auditorium free of charge.

Grant Wardell-Johnson, of the University of Queensland, also arranged free use of teaching rooms at the Gatton campus, as well as presenting and driving a field trip bus. Too many to name here, field site hosts guided us through their rehabilitation projects, contributing time, energy and enthusiasm (as well as iced water!). Powerlink allowed us to visit their major rehabilitation site at the Bulimba Creek Oxbow. Greening Australia also provided presenters and participants through their 'Exchange' Program. Student volunteers Heather Brownlie, Rhonda Martin and Brent Tangey valiantly assisted with an array of jobs, including registrations and washing up!

To all those who made the workshops so successful - MANY THANKS!

These workshops were a joint project of the ANPC and the Queensland Herbarium and supported by a Natural Heritage Trust Envirofund Grant, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and the University of Queensland. 

Sally Stephens
ANPC project manager

Visit the ANPC website to keep an eye on future workshops.