3.4.1 Information management


The Gardens is committed to making botanical information available by the most effective and appropriate means, using contemporary technology. Information on the living collections has been computer based for many years but the electronic storage of Herbarium information was begun only three years ago. There has since been a program of integration of this data so that duplication of information is minimised. This involves a complex process of database design and has become a collaborative project involving several international botanical institutions.

The computer-based Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS) now forms the link between the scientific information of the accessions of the Herbarium, the living collections, the photographic collection, and bibliographic material held in the library. It is a relational database management system based on Oracle products running on the Unix operating system. Database development is being undertaken using the Computer Aided Software Engineering tools. In addition to the storage and extraction of scientific information, computing systems provide staff with access to word processing, network communications, and a range of other electronic information-processing tools.

The Gardens is the custodian of two nationally important data sets: the Census of Australian Vascular Plants and the Australian Plant Name Index. These data sets are being integrated to form a single authority file for the names of Australian plants.

The Gardens is investigating the use of computer-aided design and Geographic Information Systems packages to aid management of its collections and facilities. Herbarium specimens are being bar-coded to facilitate handling and management, and it is planned to extend this technology to the living collections. Another area of investigation is the storage of digital images in the IBIS database to enable users to see pictorial representations of the textual records.

Management prescriptions


The objectives are to establish and manage a flexible and responsive integrated database of botanical information, and to provide information to researchers, government and the public.


The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research will take responsibility for the coordination, maintenance and updating of the important national botanic databases developed by the Gardens, other programs of the Australian Nature Conservation Agency and CSIRO. It will also take an active role in the development of national and international standards for botanical data exchange.

The data held by the Gardens will be progressively computerised and integrated into a unified database management system. The combined Census of Australian Vascular Plants and Australian Plant Name Index data sets will be redesigned to link with other data sets, including the living collections, Herbarium and photographic applications. Further development will involve loans and exchange modules integrated with existing applications and the development of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation application.

Staff will continue to update and enter new records relating to Herbarium, research, living collections and photograph accessions. Selected images of botanical items and material relevant to the management of the collection will be stored on the IBIS database and made accessible on the network. The use of bar-codes in specimen management will be further developed in the Herbarium and extended to the living collections. Attention will be paid to technological developments, such as object-oriented databases, that may be appropriate for the Gardens. Access to an on-line Geographic Information System about the Gardens and to image databases will be provided on the network, both for management of the Gardens and for publication of Gardens information.