Extracted from the Director of National Parks and Wildlife Annual Report 1992 - 1993


Annual Report 1992-1993

The goal of the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) is to develop and manage scientific collections representative of Australian and related biotas for purposes of conservation, study, education and display.

The ANBG is a major scientific and educational resource. It is the original national collection and Australia’s most comprehensive display of living native plants. The ANBG occupies 90 hectares on the lower slopes of Black Mountain in Canberra and 80 hectares at Jervis Bay.

The ANBG was proclaimed as a reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 in September 1991. Proclamation not only provided legal protection for collections but also required the preparation of a Plan of Management for the ANBG, which was undertaken throughout 1992—93. The Plan was prepared by the Director of National Parks and Wildlife, in consultation with the ANBG Advisory Committee, taking into account public representations received in early 1992: it was released for public comment on 15 May 1993.

The ANBG Advisory Committee met four times during the year with development of the Plan of Management being the major issue under consideration. Other issues included the review of the operations of the Banksia Centre and the proposal to establish the Centre for Plant Biodiversitv Research. The list ot members if the Advisory Committee is at Appendix B.


A major activity for the year was the opening of the Crosbie Morrison Centre for Environmental Education by the Minister on Wattle Day 1992 (1 September). The ceremony was attended by Mrs Lucy Crosbie Morrison whose husband was instrumental in raising national awareness of conservation issues in the 1940s and 1950s.

Negotiations with CSIRO resulted in an agreement to establish a jointly managed Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, modelled on the Cooperative Research Centres. Resourced by both organisations, staff from the ANBG and CSIRO Division of Plant Industry will be seconded to the Centre. It will combine the herbarium collections of both institutions and bring together their research activities in the areas of plant systematics and conservation biology. The Centre will be governed by a board with representatives from each institution and an independent Chair.

The ANBG played a major part in organising the ANCA’s contribution to the first Australian Science Festival held in late March to early April 1993. Displays featured marine conservation, controls on the import and export of wildlife, and the activities of ERIN. Bird and bat banding demonstrations, and tours of the herbarium and the orchid glasshouses were very popular. A musical with a feral animal theme, The Cat Makes Tracks, was a favourite with younger audiences.

The Herbarium held a successful Student Botanical Internship Program over January and February. This Program gave university students practical experience in the scientific workforce. Eight students from four universities participated.

During the year two Aboriginal trainees commenced employment at the Jervis Bay Gardens and are undertaking horticultural courses at the Yalla TAFE. In Canberra a work experience program for Aboriginal employees was initiated.
The following sections are arranged according to the organisation of the ANBG: Living Collections, Botany and Visitor Services.

Living Collections

The ANBG maintains about 83 000 plants representing more than 5 900 taxa — constituting about one third of the vascular plants recorded for Australia. Collections are held in open ground plantings, permanent pot collections and in glasshouses. Development of the living collections continued during the year with field trips to collect material for cultivation from Heard and Macquarie Islands, and many other parts of Australia and its Territories.

The hard landscaping for the new Tasmanian Garden was completed and the alpine heath, alpine tarn, buttongrass plains and lowland heath areas have been planted.

At Jervis Bay, progress continued in the development of major thematic plantings including heath plants, palms and sedges. Alterations were made to the administration building to improve access.

The Macquarie Island coolroom and cooling system were enlarged to accommodate the new material collected from Heard and Macquarie Islands. After quarantine the plants will be grown outdoors at the Nursery until summer. Plans are being developed for a permanent public display for this collection.

As part of the ANBG’s program to reduce water usage, a major upgrade of part of the Eucalypt Lawn irrigation system was completed.

During the year, staff ran several plant propagation workshops for the Friends of the ANBG. The staff exchange with the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens was continued during January and February 1993 — both exchange staff members gained valuable experience in the nursery operations of the two gardens.


The Herbarium

The Herbarium collections form the basis for the scientific documentation and authentication of the plants grown in the Gardens, and are an important national research and reference collection. Detailed planning commenced during the year for the integration of the herbarium collections in the proposed Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research.

Added to by some 20 300 specimens during 1992—93, the Herbarium collection now holds over 272 000 specimens. Loans and donations to and by the Herbarium continued.

During the year, 310 enquiries from the general public were answered, involving 373 specimens. A wide variety of professional enquiries were also serviced. Development of the Public Access Herbarium (a self-help identification system covering plants of the ACT and south-eastern NSW) continued, and the Canberra collection now comprises some 1 566 specimens of 1 350 taxa. A similar public reference set of local plants at Jervis Bay was also augmented during the year.

The Herbarium gratefully received a donation of the working papers and personal herbarium of Dr Bill Ewers of Victoria, comprising about 9 000 specimens, mainly Australian lichens.

Three further instalments of a dried collection of Australasian mosses were issued. This constitutes an annotated reference set which will eventually be issued to 20 Australian and overseas herbaria.

The involvement of community volunteers in the work of the Herbarium continued; some 20 volunteers provided invaluable assistance in preparing specimens for archiving and for the Public Access Herbarium. An average of 250 specimens per month have been prepared under this program.

Collaboration with the Canberra Branch of the Society for Growing Australian Plants continued, with assistance and tuition provided for the Grass Study Group. With funding under the Endangered Species Program, staff collaborated with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in the development of a Recovery Plan for the endangered Grevillea wilkinsonii

Councils of Heads of Australian Herbaria

The Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria (CHAH) comprises the heads of each State and Commonwealth herbarium and meets annually to discuss significant issues of herbarium management and curation and general botanical activity in Australasia.

Jim Croft (ANBG) and Helen Hewson (ABRS) attended the 20th meeting of CHAH in Perth in September 1992 and provided information on issues concerning the ANCA. Topics discussed included herbarium computer data standards and electronic networking, the Australian Botanical Liaison Officer, herbarium loans and progress with the Flora of Australia

Data and Information Processing

The Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS) database gives users access to botanical information relevant to the functions and management of the ANBG. During the year 38 599 herbarium specimens were recorded on the database, bringing the total to approximately 55 per cent of the collection.

A significant development in the Gardens’ information service during the year was the implementation of a Gopher information server. The ANBG is the first botanic garden in the world and the first biological institution in Australia to make its information available in this manner. Enquiries of the server are made at the rate of 700 to 800 per day — processed without any staff involvement.

Maintenance and merging of the Census of Australian Vascular Plants and the Australian Plant Name Index databases continued during the year. Major progress was made on the standardisation of entries in the Index, with temporary staff employed by the Gardens and by ERIN.

Staff participated in several forums concerned with the development and implementation of standards in biological databases — notably the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases for the Plant Sciences and International Organisation for Plant Information.

International Organisation for Plant Information

The International Organisation for Plant Information (IOPI) is an association of institutions and individuals with the common aim of making available and exchanging electronically readable plant information. Arthur Chapman (ERIN), Jim Croft (ANBG) and Alex George (ABRS) attended the annual meeting of IOPI in Xalapa in Mexico. Alex George was elected Secretary and Arthur Chapman and Jim Croft joined working groups dealing with systems architectures, and database design.

Working Group on Taxonomic Databases for the Plant Sciences

The International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases for the Plant Sciences is a similar international organisation affiliated with the International Union for Biological Sciences as the Commission on Plant Taxonomic Databases. Jim Croft was elected Chair for 1992—93 and is on committees for herbarium accession standards, data element dictionary and database design.

Visitor Services

Visitor numbers this year reflected a significant increase over 1991—92 numbers.

Visitors to the Gardens in Canberra: 391 000

Visitors to the Information Centre: 166 000

Visitors to the Jervis Bay Gardens: 54 000

The Information Centre provided a seven-days-a week service for visitors, acting as a referral point for horticultural and botanical enquires and giving general advice on features of the Gardens.

Important activities during 1992—93 were as follows:

A survey was undertaken by contractors to examine ways to rationalise the many different signs around the more intensively used areas of the Gardens and to recommend systems and styles for the future. The report was being assessed at the end of the year.

A number of works, which commenced in the previous year were completed:

Banksia Centre

During the year the Banksia Centre and its horticultural programs for people with disabilities were reviewed. An independent consultant undertook the review and consulted widely with staff, the disabled community and government and non-government providers of health care. The recommendations of the review were still being assessed at the end of the financial year.

Photograph Collection

The ANBG collection includes photographs of the Australian flora, a representative range of vegetation types and pictorial records of developments at the Gardens. The collection is linked through the IBIS database to plant specimens vouchered in the Herbarium. During the year records of all plant photographs were transferred to the IBIS database, providing greater ease of access to the slides and data.

Well-known photographer Denise Greig made a donation of 200 slides to the collection under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme. This is the first such donation and it is hoped others may be encouraged to donate by means of this Scheme.

The Australian Cultivar Registration Authority

The Australian Cultivar Registration Authority registers names of cultivars that arise from the Australian flora. Membership of the Authority consists of representatives of each major State botanic gardens, the nursery industry, the Society for Growing Australian Plants and a number of private individuals. A list of members is at Appendix B. A total of 36 new cultivars were registered at the 1992 annual meeting.

Australian Network for Plant Conservation

The Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC) was established to encourage, promote, facilitate communication and advise on plant conservation efforts in Australia. The national office of the network is located at the ANBG in Canberra.
The Network continued to develop during the year and the membership, drawn from public, corporate and private sectors, stood at 135 at June 1993. The major project for 1992—93 was the development and promotion of the National Endangered Species Collection and its associated database. Three issues of the newsletter (now known as Danthonia) were published and preparations are underway for the first ANPC Conference to be held in Hobart in December 1993. The Advisory Committee held its second meeting in April, 1993. The list of members of the ANPC Advisory Committee is at Appendix B.

A list of all consultancies and research projects funded for National Parks and Reserves in this Chapter is located at Appendix C12.

Table 6: ANBG Photograph Collection

Photographs in Collection

Use of the Collection in 1992-1993

Plant portraits and habitats

14 079

Borrowed for lecture


Vegetation and field photos


Duplicated for repeated use


Landscapes, educational etc


Released for publication