Policy Document, May 1998
Biodiversity Conservation Policy
The past decade has been marked by increasing global awareness of the richness and diversity of our botanical heritage, its value to humanity and the need for active conservation in the face of the rapidly accelerating impacts of human development.
The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD, 1992), recognised that botanic gardens have both an opportunity and responsibility for significant involvement in conservation.
Botanic gardens are in a strong position to educate public opinion on the importance of conservation through interpreted horticultural displays, indoor exhibitions, and education programs. Larger gardens with significant herbaria and botanical research staff and facilities make a substantial contribution to biodiversity inventory, sustainable use and management of flora, conservation biology and horticultural techniques for cultivation, reintroduction and vegetation restoration works. Botanic gardens also play a vital role in collecting and maintaining genetically significant stocks of plant species threatened with extinction. In cooperation with land managers and wildlife authorities, they make an important contribution to both vegetation restoration works and to species recovery programs, returning endangered and threatened species to secure status in the wild.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) established the original national collection which is perhaps the most comprehensive display in existence of living Australian native plants. It is thus in a unique position to play a leading role in the conservation of Australia's native flora and vegetation.
A conservation collection has been developed at the ANBG, initially focusing on AustraliaÕs rare or threatened plants but more recently geared towards interpretation and education programs which reflect and advance the ANBGÕs commitment to its conservation role. The collection has also focused more recently on genetic diversity research to provide the stock needed for endangered species recovery programs.
The ANBG gives a high priority to working cooperatively with other organisations involved in plant conservation both within Australia and overseas. It played a leading role in initiating and developing the international conservation role of botanic gardens, contributing significantly to the setting up of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI, formerly the Botanic Gardens Conservation Secretariat) in 1987 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). BGCI is 'a global network of botanic gardens ... working together to preserve the world's plant diversity'.
The ANBG promotes the concept of a nationally integrated network of plant conservation activities. Largely as a result of ANBG staff initiatives and momentum, the Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC) was established 'to promote and develop plant conservation in Australia' (Richardson et al. 1991). It drew together botanic gardens, conservation management organisations, private sector corporations, and individuals committed to the conservation of rare or threatened Australian plants and plant communities. The ANPC is regarded internationally as a model organisation of its type. The national office is located on site and receives resource and administrative support from the ANBG.
The legal and organisational basis for ANBG policy
In regard to administrative structure and legal foundation, the ANBG is attached to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, a part of the Biodiversity Group in the Environment Australia portfolio within the Commonwealth Department of the Environment. The vision of Environment Australia is 'A natural and cultural environment, valued, enhanced and protected in harmony with the nation's social and economic goals.' Its charter is to 'Deliver national leadership on environmental issues through excellence in the programs we run and the policy advice we provide.'
The objective of the Biodiversity Group is 'To help the Minister and Environment Australia in the conservation and appreciation of AustraliaÕs biological diversity and associated cultural heritage, through leadership and cooperation'.(Environment Australia Corporate Plan 1997).
The ANBG is a declared Reserve under the Commonwealth National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975, which requires a Plan of Management to be drawn up and revised every five years. The current Plan was tabled in Parliament in March 1993 and articulates mission, aims, objectives and management prescriptions (see below).
The ANBG conservation policy relates ultimately to ANZECC (Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council), the council of national and state government ministers with responsibility for conservation and environment matters. The ANBG is linked to ANZECC via the normal lines of departmental communication to the Minister for the Environment, and also via the Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens (CHABG) thence the Head, Biodiversity Group who is a member of the Standing Committee on Conservation, a committee of ANZECC.
The closer network of conservation-active bodies with which the ANBG cooperates includes the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research (CPBR), a joint venture between ANBG/Biodiversity Group and CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, amalgamating the previous two herbaria (CBG and CANB) along with some relevant research programs. The CPBR aims to provide 'new scope for scientific research on biodiversity as a basis for conservation, management and sustainable use of the Australian flora.'
The CPBR maintains ROTAP (Rare or Threatened Australian Plants), an annotated, categorised list which is used as the basis for Schedule 1 of the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. ROTAP is also the defining reference for rare taxa within the ANBG and ANPC.
Other important Biodiversity Group programs with which the ANBG liaises on conservation issues include those under the National Vegetation Initiative, and the Threatened Species and Communities, Wildlife Protection, and Invasive Species Sections.
The Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens (CHABG) is a forum of directors of the major botanic gardens and has set up the Association of Australian Botanic Gardens (AABG) to provide a national focus on the interests of the Australian botanic gardens community generally.
A nationwide network of regional botanic gardens devoted to the display, interpretation and conservation of Australia's biodiversity is being developed. These gardens may be run by local government, private groups or individuals, and often feature the flora and ecology of their local regions. The ANBG has played an important role in the inception and development of this network and continues to provide guiding input.
ANBG Conservation Objectives
The mission of the ANBG as stated in the Plan of Management is:
To grow, study and promote AustraliaÕs flora.
In carrying out its mission the Gardens has nine principal aims, enunciated in the Plan, the majority of which directly relate to conservation of the Australian flora. The most relevant of these are :
- to promote the protection, conservation and wise use of Australia's flora;
- to foster understanding of AustraliaÕs plant heritage and its environmental
and cultural values;
- to conduct and encourage research on the collections;
- to provide an information resource for government, industry, science and
- to provide a national focus for, and cooperate with, other organisations
in matters concerning botanic gardens and herbaria;
- to display the living collections in an educationally useful and attractive setting that enables people to enjoy and appreciate the recreational and horticultural values of botanic gardens.
The conservation objectives and, below, the strategies which derive from the above aims are :
- Influence public opinion and attitudes on environmental issues.
- Provide a national focus for, and national and international leadership
in, the conservation of plant biodiversity.
- Maintain development of the ANBG information base and make it appropriately
- Conduct horticultural and biodiversity research relevant to the sustainable
use and management of the Australian flora.
- Develop an ex situ living collection of ROTAP-listed taxa for use in recovery
plans, interpretation and education programs, and as a gene bank.
- Contribute to species recovery activities in cooperation with other conservation-oriented
- Promote the involvement of indigenous peoples in the management of the environment
and particularly in plant conservation.
- Assist the development of a network of Australian regional botanic gardens and provide support for kindred institutions in conservation and sustainability matters.
ANBG Conservation Strategies
1. Influence public opinion and attitudes on environmental issues.
1.1 Develop education programs and interpreted indoor exhibitions on themes targeting:
1.1.1 sustainable development, particularly interpreting the critical role of plants;
1.1.2 the role of Environment Australia and its programs;
1.1.3 maintenance of plant biodiversity: the role and importance of in situ and ex situ conservation and the need for an integrated approach;
1.1.4 ROTAP-listed species and threatened plant communities, emphasising habitat ecology, the nature and role of threatening processes, and recovery measures;
1.1.5 people, providing advice on how individuals and groups can be effective in plant conservation; and
1.1.6 indigenous peoples' knowledge of biodiversity and ecology, use of the land, and its relevance to the needs of plant conservation.
1.2 Develop interpreted outdoor horticultural displays by:
1.2.1 introducing a program of interpreted garden displays on conservation of plant biodiversity, individual taxa, plant communities, ecosystems and landscapes, integrated with the wider ANBG thematic structure. Themes to focus on are rare, threatened, and particularly endangered species, threatened communities, and recovery programs.
1.3 Develop the Public Reference Herbarium (PRH) as an education resource to be useful in plant conservation by:
1.3.1 incorporating specimens of ROTAP-listed species (not including sensitive information) in the PRH to be used in conjunction with education programs and garden themes
1.3.2 developing a local region ROTAP-listed species theme.
1.4 Promote conservation issues on the electronic media by:
1.4.1 producing appropriate technology illustrating ROTAP-listed species and promoting their conservation
1.4.2 publishing conservation policy related material (eg recovery plans) on the Internet, excluding sensitive information such as collection localities.
1.5 Develop training programs on conservation techniques for people involved in plant conservation, adaptable for use in all regions,
1.5.1 host and support the ANPC in organising training courses for parties interested in practical techniques for native vegetation regeneration and species recovery.
1.6 Maintain best practice in sustainable resource management, particularly:
1.6.1 efficient use of electricity and water;
1.6.2 recycling of water involving nutrient stripping and biological filtering;
1.6.3 recycling waste materials;
1.6.4 dealing with rubbish efficiently by sustainable means; and
1.6.5 recycling garden/nursery waste and construction materials.
2. Provide a national focus for, and national and international leadership in, the conservation of plant biodiversity.
2.1 Provide office and communications facilities for the ANPC national office, and assist its co-ordinating role.
2.2 Promote the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement in plant conservation.
2.3 Continue pro-active involvement in organisations such as BGCI, CHABG, AABG, and regional botanic garden networks.
2.4 Provide leadership in raising biodiversity awareness both nationally and internationally, and in the development of conservation action organisations in other nations of the region.
2.5 Develop cooperative conservation programs with kindred institutions of other nations of the region, eg Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia.
3. Develop the ANBG information base and make it appropriately accessible.
3.1 Maintain a comprehensive documented collection of the Australian flora in the Australian National Herbarium, with appropriate flagging of ROTAP-listed taxa.
3.2 Contribute to the ongoing development of the ROTAP list.
3.3 Maintain living collections records, flagging ROTAP-listed taxa to:
3.3.1 assist in managing the rare and threatened collection; and
3.3.2 record horticultural information complemented by ecological field data to develop cultural techniques specific to ROTAP-listed taxa.
3.4 Develop best practice for:
3.4.1 storing and accessing information about ROTAP-listed taxa on the ANBG database; and
3.4.2 exchanging such information with other organisations.
3.5 Facilitate database access by:
3.5.1 placing information from the ANBG database on publicly accessible electronic media, taking due account of sensitive information such as wild locality data, work in progress and intellectual property rights.
3.6 Encourage the development and distribution of local flora lists:
3.6.1 for use in revegetation programs in cooperation with other conservation programs.
3.7 Promote and develop the ANBG library as a plant conservation resource.
3.8 Provide a plant identification and advice service.
4. Conduct horticultural and biodiversity research relevant to the sustainable use and management of the Australian flora.
4.1 Publish and make available results of:
4.1.1 horticultural research and development of new crops from the Australian flora such as food, medicine and cut flowers; and
4.1.2 horticultural protocols for re-establishment of native vegetation, including research and development of techniques for seed selection, collection, storage, germination, and establishment in restoration areas.
4.2 Develop cooperative research programs with the CPBR and other conservation-oriented agencies, tertiary institutions and indigenous groups on:
4.2.1 conservation status of plant species and communities;
4.2.2 species priorities for research programs, monitoring and ex situ/in situ conservation action;
4.2.3 population genetics, reproductive biology, and ecology to assist in conservation, especially the survival and recovery of ROTAP-listed taxa and threatened communities;
4.2.4 processes threatening plant species and communities, focusing on ROTAP-listed taxa of the local region; and
4.2.5 locating, identifying and describing new taxa by field surveys and systematic taxonomic research.
5. Develop an ex situ living collection of ROTAP-listed taxa for use in recovery plans, interpretation and education programs, and as a gene bank.
5.1 Collect and maintain genetically significant stocks of threatened species including variants, particularly those of the local region, through:
5.1.1 supporting the ANPC objectives in encouraging cooperation between botanic gardens, kindred groups and individuals to focus on species of their own region;
5.1.2 developing the ANBG collections to complement current or likely species recovery plans, emphasising a regional focus;
5.1.3 developing the ANBG collections to form an effective part of the National Endangered Flora Collection and developing appropriate collections of plants in other conservation categories;
5.1.4 making available propagation material of ROTAP-listed taxa to kindred organisations;
5.1.5 developing the ANBG seed store as a germplasm repository for ROTAP-listed taxa, particularly those of the region; and
5.1.6 highlighting the dangers of environmental weeds including the transfer of plant genetic material between organisations such as botanic gardens.
6. Contribute to species recovery activities in cooperation with other conservation-oriented groups.
These groups include Commonwealth, State and Territory conservation agencies, ANZECC, CHABG, CPBR, tertiary education institutions, and community groups.
6.1 Conduct regional or local surveys of ROTAP-listed taxa and threatened plant communities to: 6.1.1 determine size and structure of known populations;
6.1.2 identify new populations of ROTAP-listed taxa;
6.1.3 determine the content and condition of threatened plant communities and threatening processes; and
6.1.4 determine the impact of harvesting on distribution and abundance of species of interest to the Biodiversity Group's Population Assessment Section.
6.2 Develop techniques and procedures for flora and vegetation surveys.
6.3 In cooperation with land managers and wildlife authorities, actively contribute to species recovery plans to restore wild populations of threatened local species to secure status.
7. Promote the involvement of indigenous peoples in the management of the environment and particularly in plant conservation.
7.1 Promote indigenous cultural heritage, particularly the understanding and affinity of indigenous peoples with the land and its natural ecology by:
7.1.1 consulting with indigenous communities re interpretation and education programs at the ANBG; and
7.1.2 providing traineeships for indigenous people.
8. Assist the development of a network of Australian regional botanic gardens and provide support for kindred institutions in conservation and sustainability matters.
8.1 Foster and assist the development of botanic gardens of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.
8.2 Foster the appreciation of conservation in the planning and development of regional botanic gardens.
|AABG||Association of Australian Botanic Gardens|
|ANBG||Australian National Botanic Gardens|
|ANPC||Australian Network for Plant Conservation|
|ANZECC||Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council|
|BGCI||Botanic Gardens Conservation International|
|CANB||CSIRO Plant Industry Herbarium|
|CBG||Australian National Botanic Gardens Herbarium|
|CHABG||Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens|
|CPBR||Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research|
|CSIRO||Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation|
|IUCN||International Union for the Conservation of Nature|
|PRH||Public Reference Herbarium|
|ROTAP||Rare or Threatened Australian Plants|
|UNCBD||United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity|