The primary theme of the conference was plant conservation in Australia, achievement and future directions. The six themes were:
- Conservation policy
- Plant conservation strategies
- Vegetation, soil and water context
- Ecological restoration
- Role of the NGO sector
The key questions explored through these themes included:
- How has plant conservation changed in Australia over the past two decades, and how will it need to change over the next 20 years?
- What new techniques are available?
- How can we increase the resilience and effectiveness of our plant conservation activities?
- How can we increase the resilience and health of Australia’s ecosystems and their component species in the face of the processes that threaten their existence?
- How do we achieve the changes in culture and land-use practices that are needed?
- How do we build the human and institutional capacity for sustained ecological progress? and
- Where should ANPC’s energies be focused as it enters its third decade of existence?
A description of each theme
Threats: what progress has been made on addressing and controlling key threats to plant species and ecological communities in Australia over the last two decades? What approaches have worked best, or at least well? What will be the major threats to Australia’s plant diversity in the coming two decades, and how can we prevent the arrival or emergence of threats rather than just ‘managing’ them?
Conservation policy: how effective are Australia’s current environmental laws and policies, and what has been achieved under them at national, state and local levels? What are the legislative and policy trends? Are the current legal and policy frameworks appropriate and sufficient for addressing the threats to plants and ecosystems over the coming two decades? If not, what needs to change?
Plant conservation strategies: how effective have the conservation reserve systems and recovery plans, action plans, management plans and the like been for plant and vegetation conservation in Australia over the last two decades? What are the current strengths and weaknesses in our thinking and processes for developing plant conservation strategies? What mix of strategies is needed for the coming decades to maintain and build on existing conservation achievements, and address key threats?
Vegetation, soil and water context: what have the past two decades of plant conservation and vegetation restoration activities in Australia missed in terms of helping insulate our continent against projected extremes of climate change? Would addressing soil-water-plant interactions and dependencies ‘as one’ better achieve landscape health and resilience? What would be the benefits and pitfalls of such an approach; is it realistic/achievable? If we need to start changing our current approaches, how do we go about it/what are the priorities?
Ecological restoration: to what degree and extent has ecological restoration contributed to plant conservation in Australia over the last 20 years? What are the key lessons for restoration over the next two decades? What should be the key restoration objectives over that period?
Role of the NGO sector: what have been the plant conservation achievements of the NGO sector in Australia over the last two decades? Has the role and status of NGOs changed over that period? How and why? What are the current strengths and weaknesses of the NGO sector, and government attitudes to it? What role and priorities should the NGOs assume for plant conservation over the coming decades?