ACT workshop report: identifying plants in the
drizzle at Mulligan’s Flat
Australian Network for Plant Conservation Inc., Canberra.
Originally published in
Australasian Plant Conservation
16(4), March - May 2008, pp 33-34
wonderful!” – music to the ears of any course organiser! This “wonderful” course
was the ANPC’s Identifying plants of grassy ecosystems of the ACT region,
held on 22 and 23 November 2007.
The course was
field-based, with a short indoor introductory session each morning in the
Australian National Botanic Gardens Theatrette. These sessions introduced
beginners to plant structure, identification keys and plant identification for
site assessment. Day one was designed for beginners and day two for those with
more experience, though day one participants were welcome to register for day
with an enormous skill-base tutored the course. These included two consultant
botanists as well as the very obliging staff of several organisations (see
attracted wide interest and was fully subscribed well before the event.
Eighty-eight people attended day one and 84 attended day two. As 55 attended
both days, there were actually 117 individual participants, plus two assistants.
Thirteen of the participants were sponsored community volunteers (see
Nature Reserve was the field site, with day one and day two at different
locations to avoid repetition. The participants broke into five groups and
rotated around five sites, varying in landscape and vegetation type. Two tutors
were based at each site with the rotation ensuring that all participants
experienced the diverse skills of all the tutors. Two tutors roamed between
sites, providing assistance and expertise where needed.
identification for site assessment with Rainer Rehwinkel and Margaret Ning.
Photo: Sally Stephens
Plant keys and
other identification aids were at each site, and microscopes and computers with
interactive keys were set up at one site. Each registrant received a 10x hand
lens as part of their registration and a copy of Grassland flora – a field
guide for the Southern Tablelands (NSW & ACT), donated by the Natural
Temperate Grasslands Recovery Team.
inclement weather, with heavy rain at the end of day one and light drizzle for
the first half of day two, the participants were not deterred. Tarpaulins
originally intended to shade the books, microscopes and computers were in fact
needed to shelter them from drizzle!
Purdie showing that a dissecting microscope is sometimes essential. Photo: Sally
(48.5%) of the evaluation forms were returned, with analysis revealing a high
level of satisfaction (for example, 87% agreed that the course would have
ongoing benefits). For full analysis, see the ANPC website.
Some 45% of
respondents were involved in Landcare and other community groups or were private
landholders or ‘interested individuals’. As the conservation of grassy
ecosystems often depends on volunteers and their dedication, they were a key
focus group for this course. As well as training in plant identification, the
course also provided them with resources and networks to continue to build their
The form also
provided space for individual comments and suggestions. One of the sponsored
Thanks to you
and all those who organised & presented the course. It was wonderful - diverse
and useful information, well presented, tightly packaged - no wasted time. You
deserve some applause.
The course was
supported by an ACT Environment Grant. Course tutors generously provided their
expertise and time: Greg Baines (ACT Parks, Conservation & Lands); Rainer
Rehwinkel (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change); Laurie Adams,
Brendan Lepschi, David Mallinson and Andrew Slee (Centre for Plant Biodiversity
Research); Anthony Whalen (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and
the Arts); Bindi
(Greening Australia); Margaret Ning (Friends of Grasslands); Rosemary Purdie
(ANPC), plus the funded consultant botanists Isobel Crawford and David Eddy.
Crawford guiding participants through the essential details. Photo: Sally
covered the course fees of 13 community volunteers: ACT Parks, Conservation and
Lands (4); the Commonwealth Department of Defence (4) and NSW Department of
Environment and Climate Change (5).
Temperate Grasslands Recovery Team donated 120 copies of Grassland flora – a
field guide for the Southern Tablelands (NSW & ACT).
assistance in the ANPC office was provided by Merryl Bradley.