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Australasian Plant Conservation

Originally published in Australasian Plant Conservation 18(3) December 2009 - February 2010, p 1-2

From the Editor

Sue Mathams
Australian Network for Plant Conservation. Email: Sue.Mathams@environment.gov.au

As someone who has worked in the conservation sections of several local governments in Australia, I can attest to the important, although arguably often under-reported, contribution that local government makes to plant conservation. Local government can greatly influence plant conservation outcomes in many ways—through, for example, its planning and development assessment responsibilities, on-ground management of its reserves, support of private land conservation incentives and engagement of local communities in on-ground conservation activities.

In this edition of Australasian Plant Conservation (APC) we provide a snapshot of the types of plant conservation activities local government is undertaking across Australia. Most of the articles are from local governments; many ANPC members work for local government and a number have contributed articles. While some of the articles outline specific conservation programs, others provide overviews of strategic planning processes being undertaken. Articles have been loosely grouped under the broad themes of strategic planning, use of spatial information, display gardens and general conservation initiatives.

One of the challenges for many local governments in planning for the management of biodiversity is designing a conservation network within an often highly fragmented and urbanised landscape. Such networks however have enabled local government to manage natural resources more strategically and are a useful tool for assisting and directing on-ground works such as weed eradication and revegetation. Sutherland Shire and Gold Coast City Council provide overviews of the processes they have undertaken in developing and implementing their conservation networks. Kalamunda Shire describes the development of a local biodiversity strategy which is assisting them in better protecting and enhancing the management of 400 reserves.

A number of articles describe how spatial information is being used to enhance native vegetation conservation. The Sunshine Coast Regional Council uses resilience mapping and a scoring system for its conservation reserves to prioritise on-ground work. A weed mapping project in the Tweed Shire shows how aerial mapping is being used in the fight against vine weeds which are a major threat to important riparian vegetation. In Western Australia, the Roadside Conservation Committee is assisting local government with managing their roadside vegetation by producing Roadside Conservation Value maps. And an article about the mapping of an endangered ecological community within the Lake Macquarie local government area describes how this information will assist Council in providing greater protection to the ecological community through its planning and development assessment processes.

Planted gardens such as botanic gardens or arboreta have long been used to inspire and educate people about plants; the role of botanic gardens in plant conservation was the theme of our last APC issue of 2009. Two articles in this issue illustrate a quite different local government angle on this to meet specific plant conservation goals. Redland City Council, as part of its strategy in managing weeds, is promoting the planting of local native plants in backyard gardens through the use of demonstration gardens. These gardens display local native plants in different garden styles. The Australian Capital Territory government outlines the conservation role of the new international arboretum under development in the Territory with reference to examples of locally endangered plants.

The remaining articles provide examples of some specific programs that local governments are undertaking that are contributing to plant conservation. Quairading Shire discusses a range of initiatives that are being delivered to protect biodiversity assets in the central wheatbelt area of Western Australia. Hornsby Council gives an overview of some of its conservation programs, including just celebrating 20 years of Bushcare, where community volunteers work in council reserves to conserve and enhance them. The Australian Capital Territory government provides an overview of the challenges it faces in protecting and managing threatened species and ecosystems within its boundary and a snapshot of some of the communities and species that face a precarious future. An article from Perth Region Natural Resource Management proposes a model for better integrating natural resource management into local government core business within the Perth region and reports on the Perth Biodiversity Project, a program which assists local governments to take a strategic, consistent and integrated approach to biodiversity conservation planning.

In a thought provoking article, Andrew Crompton writes on why he considers local government is generally performing badly in the area of plant conservation within South Australia despite local government being in the best position to deliver it. He suggests the reasons are complex and identifies a number of factors that may have contributed to this situation. He advocates for some new approaches to turn this situation around, including greater community engagement and better partnership arrangements.

Other features in this issue include the report by ANPC President Bob Makinson at the Annual General Meeting in November 2009, and a report from ANPC Committee Member Zoë Smith from the USA. The issue is rounded off with the report from the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network and a book review. Other regular items have been deferred to the next issue. Welcome to APC 2010; please read on and enjoy.