Director of National Parks Annual Report 2002-2003

Commonwealth of Australia, 2003
ISSN 1443-1238

Part D - State of the Parks report (continued)

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Map showing location of the Australian National Botanic GardensWeb site address: http://www.anbg.gov.au/

Special features

The Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG ) is a major scientific, educational and recreational resource. It was one of the first botanic gardens in the world to adopt the study and display of indigenous species as a principal goal. One-third of the known flowering plant species that occur in Australia are represented.

The ANBG contributes to Australia's role in promoting the objectives of various international environment conventions. In particular, the Convention on Biological Diversity recognises the importance of botanic gardens in ex situ conservation, in situ conservation, research, training, plant identification and monitoring, public awareness raising, access to genetic resources and global cooperation in relation to sustainable use of plant biodiversity.


Latitude 3518' South, Longitude 14908' East


90 hectares

Proclamation date

17 September 1991

IUCN category


Biogeographic context

Houses plants from a vast range of biogeographic regions - alpine to tropical, coastal to central desert

Management plan status

Current plan expires 9 January 2009

Other significant management documents

Management plan implementation schedule; risk assessment and management schedule; ANBG Masterplan (National Capital Authority); Capital Works and Maintenance Plan 2002-2005; ANBG Fire Procedures 2002-03; kangaroo and wallaby management plans; ANBG Marketing Plan 2002-03; ANBG Education Service Policy; ANBG Photograph Collection Policy; Agreement for the Establishment and Operation of the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research (CPBR ) between the Director of National Parks and Wildlife and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); CPBR Strategic Plan 2000-2004



$7.11 million


$0.27 million


$2.52 million




377 000

Commercial permits

4 permits for commercial activities; 35 wedding site/photography licences; 235 licences to publish photos from collection

International conventions and agreements

World Heritage Convention

Supports Australia's World Heritage sites through research, plant collections, horticultural and educational programs

Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran 1971)

Supports Australia's obligations under the Ramsar Convention through access to data on aquatic plants in the Australian National Herbarium

Other agreements

Collaborative links with international organisations including:

  • International Association of Botanic Gardens
  • International Association of Plant Taxonomists
  • International Plant Propagators Society
  • International Union of Biological Sciences Taxonomic Databases Working Group
  • Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • International Organisation for Plant Information World Vascular Plant Checklist Project
  • International Society for Horticultural Science

Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research

The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research is a joint venture between the ANBG and CSIRO Plant Industry under a ten-year agreement signed by their parent bodies, the Director of National Parks and CSIRO. The Australian National Herbarium is part of this facility, housing the voucher specimens for plants in the ANBG with data supporting both the living and herbarium collections. The herbarium is a major contributor to the national Australia's Virtual Herbarium project.

Report on performance by key result areas

Key result area: natural heritage management

Major issues


Performance results 2002-03

Key result area: cultural heritage management

Major issues


Performance results 2002-03

Key result area: visitor management and park use

Major issues


Performance results 2002-03

Key result area: stakeholders and partnerships

Major issues


Performance results 2002-03

Key result area: business management

Major issues


Key result area: biodiversity knowledge management

Major issues


Performance results 2002-03

Future challenges

Water management will remain a key issue with Canberra facing continued and tighter water restrictions due to the continuing drought and restricted water supply. Fire protection will also take on added emphasis in the coming summer, depending on weather patterns.

Completing the major nursery development on budget and on time will be an important focus for 2003-04. Plans for the redevelopment of the old nursery site will be completed.

Work on Australia's Virtual Herbarium will continue, with the project reaching the halfway point during 2003-04.

The living, herbarium and photograph components will be integrated in the ANBG 's botanical database during 2003-04.

Maintaining the ANBG 's growing role as a tourist attraction will remain a key focus. Continued provision of interesting visitor attractions, like the Friends' summer concerts, and providing guided tours will be important.

CASE STUDY: Orchids and a fungus - a partnership in evolution

Pterostylis Taurus - Photo: Mark Clements  Scientists at the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research are looking at the relationship between a particular group of orchids and a fungus that grows on the orchids' roots.

Orchid-fungi associations are of great significance in the ecology of orchids, with all species partly or fully dependent on root fungi, particularly during germination and early establishment.

A three-year study supported with outside funding is being undertaken to research this complex biological and evolutionary relationship between two completely different organisms.

Recent studies of the orchid genus Pterostylis have led to new understanding of the evolution of this group of orchids and have opened up new opportunities for scientists to study the corresponding evolution of the orchids' root fungi. The research aims to determine the extent to which evolution of the orchids and of the fungi have depended on their interaction.

The research could have important long-term consequences for conservation, as it could lead to better methods of in vitro propagation of endangered species of these orchids, and to improving revegetation techniques in rehabilitation areas.

CASE STUDY: The Gardens Classroom - a new approach to botanic gardens education

The Australian National Botanic Gardens has developed a new program, the Gardens Classroom, a nature-based education service for local primary schools.

The program complements the self-guided and Explainer-led services that primarily target interstate visitors.

The Gardens Classroom involves use of greenhouse and outdoor propagation areas and the Banks Garden, which has been redeveloped for educational use. Some special resources that students can use (which are not generally available to them in their schools) include an extensive collection of unusual craft materials and tools, stereo microscopes, a flex-camera, propagation equipment and an outside story circle.

Teachers prepare their day's activities and can bring up to 60 students at a time. The all-day program can include any of the self-guided and Explainer-led activities, art and craft from the 'Gardens in a Box' resources, and special activities, like plant propagation and looking at life in freshwater, which are presented by Gardens' staff and other experts.

To date three teacher accreditation workshops have been held to familiarise teachers with the program and facilities, and to provide hands-on experience with the resources.

A leading education consultant has been engaged to assist in the development and evaluation of the program. A very successful pilot program involving 550 children was run in Term 2, and sponsorship is being sought to fund teacher-presenters who can also help develop new activities and learning resources.