Prepared, August 2002
The development of the living collection continued in accordance with the thematic plan. Approximately 11 500 specimens, representing some 700 taxa, were planted.
Infection of areas by the fungus Armillaria continued to threaten the health of the Gardens. Armillaria-infected roots, trees and shrubs were removed from one of the peripheral infection sites. Extensive surveying of roots for evidence of infection was carried out adjacent to the main path, the rainforest gully and the rock garden. One infected tree root was identified in this area and further control works will focus on containment of the infection.
Trees blown down or damaged by storms included many aging Acacias in the rainforest gully. Tree surgery contractors removed many hazardous trees and limbs.
Approximately 28 per cent of the living collection was audited. This included tagging all the specimens in 60 of the Gardens’ 214 sections. Assistance was provided to Booderee Botanic Garden to audit 22 of its 110 sections.
The seedbank was re-equipped to enable the storage of seed at international standards for temperature and humidity. A total of 612 collections were added to the seedbank.
The Gardens became a signatory to the international Common Policy Guidelines: Guidelines to Assist in the Preparation of Institutional Policies Based on the Principles on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-Sharing for Participating Institutions. This will ensure that the Gardens adopts practices consistent with Australia’s commitment to implement the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity as part of measures to regulate access to biological resources.
The botanical research programs of the Gardens are undertaken through the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, a joint venture between Parks Australia and CSIRO Division of Plant Industry. The centre maintained the scientific specimens of the Australian National Herbarium and continued research into the taxonomy, systematics and conservation of Australian native plants.
With volunteer assistance, exceptional progress was made in processing specimens in the herbarium. During the year, 26 953 specimens were mounted and 19 473 were databased. The collection now numbers over 1 300 000 specimens, of which 535 000 (40 per cent) are databased and accessible through the Internet and will eventually be accessible through Australia’s Virtual Herbarium.
Staff published a total of 41 articles in scientific journals, books and newsletters documenting Australia’s plant biodiversity and published information on the centre’s programs and Australian botany on the Internet (www.cpbr.gov.au/cpbr/). Articles covered taxonomy and systematics, conservation biology, genetics in rare species, conservation management, management strategies for weed control, models of host resistance and pathogen virulence, and the underlying principles of rarity in flora.
The development of interactive electronic identification keys continued as a major focus of centre activity and these illustrated works are a major vehicle for dissemination of botanical information from the centre.
Funding provided for Australia’s Virtual Herbarium enabled the recruitment of additional data entry and curatorial staff to identify, geo-reference and enter priority groups of Australian plants for access on the Internet. The plan is to complete databasing the six million specimens in the eight major Australian herbaria within five years.
Update of the Australian Plant Name Index continued as a core activity of the Australian National Herbarium. Access to and reporting from the databases was continually improved for the botanical community and the public through the user-friendly What's Its Name? interface. This is a collaborative project with the Australian Biological Resources Study and a component of Australia's Virtual Herbarium. Staff continued to collaborate on the International Plant Names Index project with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Harvard University.
The centre continued its collaboration with the Australian Biological Resources Study using the centre’s databases to manage the Flora of Australia data and deliver the data through the Internet. This taxon-based data will contribute to Australia's Virtual Herbarium.
Staff participated in national and international activities. These included:
There were approximately 387 000 visits to the Gardens, an increase of 5.4 per cent on the previous year.
The annual summer concert series, sponsored by the Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, attracted around 40 000 participants and raised about $30 000 in donations. Other popular events included the NAIDOC Week children’s activities in July, a Wattle Day celebration on 1 September and the Friends’ dinner, ‘Grazing in the Gardens’, in December.
A new program of public art, sponsored in part by the Friends, was initiated with a primary aim to encourage artists to explore and provide interpretation of Australian plants and the environment for visitors. A committee of prominent Australians involved in the arts and sciences was established to oversee the program and expressions of interest were invited from artists.
Education services were well-used, attracting 12 600 participants (62 per cent from the local region and 38 per cent from interstate or overseas), including 450 teachers attending professional development courses. A new range of self-guided education programs was launched in October with ‘Bot Goss’ – a mystery challenge based on Australian plants. A range of Explainer-led programs, primarily for local schools, was also conducted. Training for graduate and postgraduate tertiary students continued with 18 tertiary students taking part in the annual internship program.
Interpretive programs for visitors included guided tours, exhibitions, talks and explanatory signs. Guided tours conducted by the Friends attracted 2397 visitors and special tours were conducted with a commercial partner during the Floriade festival in September–October. Materials including self-guided holiday activities were issued throughout the year.
An exhibition, ‘Shades of Eucalyptus’, featured a new technique developed by artist India Flint of dying fabric with dyes extracted from eucalypts. This followed the popular exhibition ‘Floral Emblems’ which was later displayed at the Orange Botanic Gardens.
Fees and charges for use of the Gardens’ site and services were reviewed and new changes were implemented on 1 May 2002. Arrangements with commercial partners operating on the Gardens site were also reviewed. A new license to operate the bookshop was issued, the contract for parking services was reviewed to increase revenue and new arrangements expanding the capacity of the café to hold functions were introduced.
The Gardens' library responded to about 1150 reference enquiries (884 in 00-01) and made 4456 loans (4023 in 00-01) Major donations, including rare volumes of the Australian Orchid Review, were received from Ryde College of Technical and Further Education and the Forestry Library of the Australian National University. Substantial progress was made in cataloguing archival collections including field data notebooks and a new compactus was installed to house the growing journal collection.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens and Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research Internet sites (accessed through www.anbg.gov.au) received about 560 000 ‘hits’ per month (328 000 in 00-01) each month, delivering information to all countries of the world. The various botanical databases were accessed via the Internet site about 48000 times each month.
Using a grant from the Friends, a fungi site was developed, providing textual and visual information about this little known group. .
The Gardens hosts the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority, which has the world’s largest herbarium collection of Australian cultivars. The collection is accessible through the Gardens Internet site.
A new interface was developed for Australia's Virtual Herbarium incorporating interactive capabilities and dynamic links to related information (see www.chah.gov.au/avh/).
The National Plant Photograph Collection received 2441 additions including 571 made under the Cultural Gifts Program. This increased the collection to 37 507 slides. In all, 1851 photos were borrowed (up from 796 in 00-01). An additional 1027 digital images from the collection were added to the Gardens Internet site, up from 500 in 00-01.
Relocation and replacement of the existing outdated 34-year-old production nursery is the highest priority capital works project in the 2002–2008 management plan. A new site for the nursery on the north-east boundary, away from areas used by visitors, is proposed. Plans for a facility which demonstrates best practice, particularly in relation to use of environmentally friendly technologies, have been developed, with the aim of commencing construction during 2003. A preliminary concept design was prepared for an arid display garden on the existing nursery site.
A lawn area north of the rock garden was redeveloped to provide additional rock garden planting areas, new seating spots for visitors, a re-formed flat grass area and additional disabled access in and around the rock garden. The two main sets of steps into the rock garden, off the main path, were paved, for safety as well as aesthetic reasons. Many paths in the area of the rock garden were renovated and drainage issues addressed. An automatic irrigation control system was installed.
Smaller landscape and building works included:
Plans for refurbishment and enlargement of indoor seating areas in the café were progressed. The refurbishments will increase the interior seating space from 50 to 80.
A new asset maintenance contract, with significant cost reductions, was let to take effect on 1 July 2002. The asset maintenance review will continue with a focus on maximising energy efficiency.
Some 140 volunteers worked in diverse areas of the gardens. For example:
Helichrysum ‘Helping Hand’ plants were produced for distribution and sale in late 2001 to commemorate the Year of the Volunteer. The ACT patron of the International Year of Volunteers, Senator the Hon Margaret Reid, launched the plant at Parliament House in October 2001. Plants were made available through local nurseries and Volunteering Australia. Royalties from plant sales benefit both the Gardens and Volunteering ACT.
The Friends group was formed in 1991 to support the Gardens through fund-raising and sponsorship. Now numbering over 1000 members, the Friends contributed $20 000 in funding for projects and sponsored a number of events, most notably the summer concert series in January and February.
In October the Friends hosted the National Conference of Volunteer Guides in Botanic Gardens.