Extracted from the Director of National Parks Annual Report 2007 - 2008

Australian National Botanic Gardens


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 a nation’s native species as a principal goal.

Approximately one-third of the known flowering plant species that occur in Australia, and about half the known eucalypt species, are represented in its living collection. The ANBG is a national showcase in the horticultural use of Australia’s native plants.

The ANBG contributes to meeting Australia’s obligations under various international environment conventions to which Australia is a signatory. In particular, the Convention on Biological Diversity recognises the importance of botanic gardens in ex situ and in situ conservation, research, training, plant identification and monitoring, raising public awareness, providing access to genetic resources, and global cooperation in relation to sustainable use of plant biodiversity.


Latitude 35°16’ South, Longitude 149°06’ East


85 hectares

Proclamation date

17 September 1991

IUCN category

Category IV

Biogeographic context

Displays plants from a vast range of biogeographic regions—alpine to tropical, coastal to central desert

Management plan

Second plan expires 9 January 2009

Other significant management documents

Management Plan Implementation Schedule; Risk Assessment and Management Schedule; ANBG Masterplan (National Capital Authority); Emergency Response Procedures Manual June 2005; ANBG Fire Procedures 2006; kangaroo and wallaby management plans; 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 the CSIRO; CPBR Strategic Plan



$9.422 million
$0.473 million
$0.670 million


501,400 to site
96,000 to visitor centre


4 commercial activity permits; 58 wedding or wedding photography
licences; 101 licences to publish 640 photographs from the collection

Living plants

Planted in 2007–08: 4,535
Total number of taxa in the living collection: 6,339
Total number of registered plants in the living collection: 78,146

Herbarium specimens

Specimens added to database in 2007–08: 38,518
Total number of specimens in collection: approximately 1.2 million

Australian Plant Image Index

Added in 2007–08: 4,027
Total number of photographs in collection: 40,000


4 commercial activity permits; 45 wedding or wedding photography licences; 100 licences to publish 509 photographs from the collection.

International conventions and agreements

World Heritage Convention

Supports Australia’s World Heritage sites through botanical research, scientific plant collections, plant identification, botanical information management and horticultural and educational programmes

Wetlands (Ramsar) Convention

Supports Australia’s obligations under the Ramsar Convention through access to plant identification services and data on aquatic plants in the Australian National Herbarium, and through delivery of information on Australia’s aquatic plants through its website

Other agreements

Collaborates 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
· International Plant Name Index (Kew Botanic Gardens and Harvard University)
· Global Biodiversity Information Facility
· International Organisation for Plant Information World Vascular Plant Checklist Project
· Species 2000

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999


On Commonwealth Heritage List

Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research

The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research is a joint venture between the ANBG and CSIRO Plant Industry. It was formed in 1993 and cooperative arrangements were renewed for a further 10 years in 2000.

The Australian National Herbarium is the core of this facility, housing voucher specimens for research, environmental studies and for the ANBG living collection. Databases support the living, herbarium, and photograph collections. The herbarium is a major contributor to the network of Australasian herbaria, to Australia’s Virtual Herbarium—a national project involving all states and territories—and to the Australian Plant Census project that is developing a national endorsed list of scientifi c names for Australian plants. It is a key contributor to the Taxonomy Research and Information Network and the Atlas of Living Australia.


The ANBG’s horticultural planting is scientifically documented through voucher specimens in the Australian National Herbarium. A team of botanists, including national and international collaborators, ensure that the correct botanical names are always applied to the living specimens and used in public interpretation. New collection accessions help document the occurrence and distribution of plants in Australia.

A specialised database system (the Integrated Botanical Information System) helps to maintain essential links between specimens in the herbarium, contemporary scientifi c literature, the living plants in the gardens and the photographs in Australian Plant Image Index.

A team of ANBG staff regularly stocktake its living plant specimens, recording plantings, locations and deaths, plus the overall health of the collection.

Future challenges

Major challenges are:

Report on performance by key result areas

KRA1: Natural heritage management

Major issues


Performance results 2007–08

KRA2: Cultural heritage management

Major issues


Performance results 2007–08

KRA4: Visitor management and reserve use

Major issues


Performance results 2007–08

KRA5: Stakeholders and partnerships

Major issues


Performance results 2007–08

KRA6: Business management

Major issues


Performance results 2007–08

KRA7: Biodiversity knowledge management

Major issues


Performance results 2007–08

click to enlarge
Corybas dowlingii, one of the three orchids that are the subject of the Bulahdelah Orchid Recovery Project.

Rhizanthella slateri - eastern Australian underground orchid

click to enlarge image

Pacific Highway Bulahdelah Bypass orchid recovery project

In partnership with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research is investigating the biology of three threatened species of orchid, which are affected by the proposed Pacifi c Highway Upgrade at Bulahdelah in NSW.

Two of the species, Cryptostylis hunteriana (leafless tongue orchid) and Rhizanthella slateri (eastern Australian underground orchid), are listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Corybas dowlingii (red lanterns) is listed under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. All occur within, and adjacent to, the proposed highway upgrade site on the lower slopes of Alum Mountain.

The project involves both field and laboratory research on the species to:

All orchids depend on mycorrhizal (symbiotic root-dwelling) fungi for seed germination and maintenance of plants in the wild. The two nationally threatened species being investigated also rely on a range of host plants for their survival. Such complex relationships mean the project is focusing on more than just the orchids themselves. The field research component of the project involves the location, hand pollination and collection of seeds of the three threatened orchid species at the Bulahdelah site; the isolation, identification and establishment of the nature of the mycorrhizal fungal relationships with each orchid species, and the identity of potential higher plant host species. This information will help identify possible alternative sites on Alum Mountain suitable for translocation of those plants directly affected by the road construction.

Already 15 visits have been made to the site to gather data on the life cycle and ecology of each species and to collect samples for research. Further fieldwork will involve translocating some individuals identified within the road footprint, and the identifi cation and assessment of other sites suitable for translocation or re-introduction of laboratory propagated orchids.

Research in the laboratory will involve the isolation, culture and identifi cation (through DNA sequencing and analysis) of the mycorrhizal fungi associated with the orchids; artificial propagation of the orchids from seed in association with the appropriate mycorrhizal fungus; and, where appropriate, propagation of seedlings of potential host tree and shrub species. As they develop, orchid seedlings will be matched with their associated mycorrhizal fungus and host plant species as units, for re-introduction into appropriate off-road sites at Bulahdelah. Translocated and re-introduced orchids will be monitored by our partners for a period of ten years to assess the results.

The nature of the species and the time constraints involved make this a challenging and ground-breaking project. Its results will be highly signifi cant in understanding the interactions and complexities of these and similar species and in providing answers to crucial questions to support future conservation management.

click to enlarge
Soil sensors have been installed at the Australian National Botanic Gardens to accurately determine the water needs of the living collection

click to enlarge image

Taking a lead in responding to climate change

The Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) is taking action nationally, regionally and locally in response to the challenges of climate change.

This includes:

As climate change places greater pressures on the natural ranges and survival of wild populations of plants, Australia’s botanic gardens are among the first in the world to take a national approach to supporting plant conservation. The ANBG has facilitated the development of a national climate change adaptation strategy that capitalises on three key strengths of botanic gardens. The first of these is education. Receiving about 13 million visitors annually, Australia’s botanic gardens are places where people, plants and biodiversity come together. As a first step to putting together a national approach to raising community awareness, the ANBG facilitated development of shared key messages around climate change and biodiversity, to be delivered in botanic gardens across the country. Second, botanic gardens provide a safety net for plant conservation. Seed banks and other living collections offer a living store of genetic diversity. These collections are valuable to a range of taxonomic, species and ecological research and as an insurance policy supporting plant conservation in reserves. Third, botanic gardens are places of immense knowledge about how to grow and propagate plants. This knowledge underpins efforts to reintroduce species and restore ecosystems. It supports climate change research and provides botanic information towards the management of our reserves. One of the areas where the ANBG is applying its expertise is in research and conservation of alpine plants. Recognised as one of the 11 Australian centres of plant diversity, the alpine region has been identified among the most vulnerable to climate change. The ANBG has completed its third year of seed collection from critically vulnerable alpine areas, and is laying the groundwork for a collecting and germination research program.

The work will support broader alpine vegetation research, conservation of alpine species and species recovery, where little is currently known. Understanding the effects of a changing climate through germination studies will help develop management strategies to ensure survival and adaptation in the wild.

A changing local climate is also inspiring best-practice water management strategies in the ANBG. To make the most of every drop, the ANBG introduced new soil moisture sensors to be used in conjunction with the computer controlled irrigation system that was commissioned in 2006. The sensors help staff understand how quickly the soil is getting wet and how deep the water goes. Staff members are monitoring water use more effectively and ensuring each area is watered at just the right level and the right time to meet plant needs.

Other water-saving initiatives already in place in the gardens include recycling water in the pond systems and nursery, minimising watering on lawns, and collecting water from buildings for the Growing Friends nursery.

The ANBG’s achievements this year form a strong foundation for future work that will make a difference in response to climate change.

Updated 20 November, 2008 , webmaster, ANBG (anbg-info@anbg.gov.au)