Practice and Partnerships:
ANPC's Fourth National Conference
Jeanette Mill, National Coordinator
Danthonia, Volume 8, Number 2, December 1999
The ANPC's Fourth National Conference, Promotion Practice and Partnerships,
held in Albury Wodonga in late November was a great success. This issue of Danthonia
includes reports on the conference from several different perspectives, but
from my own perspective there were some particular highlights and successful
new additions to the formula. The conference was the first since ANPC became
an incorporated association, so members had the opportunity to meet the new
ANPC Executive Committee, and to attend the first ANPC Inc. Annual General Meeting
- see insert for reports and minutes.
The conservation of what has become known as the forgotten flora, the non-vascular
plants, was brought to the fore in a dedicated session (see below for session
outcomes). A series of practical techniques workshops was held as a follow on
from the ANPC's highly successful Plant Conservation Techniques Courses. These
were designed to give practitioners a range of take-home skills, and to also
offer an affordable and accessible alternative for community-based people unable
to attend the whole conference. The workshops attracted many people from the
region, including farmers and landcarers. In keeping with the non-vascular thread,
two workshops were held on cryptogams - one on the Fungimap project (see separate
report) and one on soil crust lichens. These were very well attended by enthusiastic
would-be cryptogam conservationists.
The keynote papers set the scene well. Dr Kingsley Dixon, Director of Plant
Science at Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, Western Australia, and President
of the ANPC, emphasised the need for scientists to be relevant to the conservation
community in their research, and to bring outcomes to practitioners in an accessible
way. Dr Dixon also recommended that practitioners look over the shoulder of
a scientist, and actively form partnerships to promote the vital two way flow
of information. The ANPC's unique and crucial role in achieving this was emphasised.
Dr David Given, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Plant Conservation
Subcommittee, Manager of the International Centre for Nature Conservation in
New Zealand, and ANPC Vice-President, brought an international perspective with
his keynote paper. Global strategies such as the SSC Plant Conservation Programme
for 2000-2005 were discussed, with ANPC being presented as a world-leading proponent
in conservation networking.
The international links were furthered by Lucy Sutherland, representing Botanic
Gardens Conservation International, who brought delegates up to date on the
new International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation, being formulated
through a world-wide consultative process.
Sessions and Recommendations
The three days of papers highlighted the broad membership of ANPC and its crucial
role in facilitating the sharing of information between all involved in plant
conservation. Papers were presented from a range of organisational backgrounds,
including industry representatives like the National Herbalists Association
of Australia. This paper explored the impact of the herbal medicine industry
on the Australian flora, and called for close ties between the industry and
plant conservation. The Friends of Grasslands spoke of their efforts to conserve
and raise the profile of one of Australia's most threatened ecosystems.
Paper sessions were followed by workshops, where delegates had the opportunity
to shape ANPC's focus over the next two years. Delegates endorsed the important
role of ANPC regional groups in dissemination and application of science to
on-ground projects and suggested they increase their involvement in providing
training and strong regional networking, targeting regions which include biodiversity
hotspots where there is little plant conservation action currently. In discussing
ANPC's international role delegates resolved that ANPC needs to maintain its
voice in international networks, and to provide assistance to surrounding countries
as is deemed appropriate by those countries.
The workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Ecological Communities &
Ecosystems recommended that ANPC establish a working group to review existing
restoration guidelines and accredit those which meet best practice in the area.
This would include modifying guidelines to take into account gaps such as cryptogams
and heavy metals. ANPC would be grateful to hear of any existing guidelines,
and any information can be sent to the National Office.
In discussing conservation actions for non-vascular plants, it was recommended
that a working list of Australian Rare or Threatened Non-vascular plants be
produced, similar to the existing list for vascular plants. This was originally
proposed by Dr Tom May of Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, as a ROTAF list
(Rare or Threatened Australian Fungi) but was considered to be such an important
initiative that it soon expanded out to cover all of the non-vascular plants.
In discussing the ANPC's training role, a list of training topics was compiled,
and delegates recommended members commit to organising the delivery of courses
in regions. Priority regions were identified.
The Research into Practice session focused on the importance of translating
the outcomes of science into practice. Continuation of the program of producing
best practice guidelines, such as for in situ conservation and provenance, was
considered an effective means of achieving these aims. It was also considered
a priority that ANPC play a role in the assessment process for applications
for grants such as through the Natural Heritage Trust and for conservation research.
Finally, the importance of effective partnerships was highlighted by a series
of papers on linking government, industry and community, and on overcoming the
increasing problems of fragmentation. It was recommended that ANPC coordinate
the production of a set of guidelines on partnerships, and some of Australia's
leading lights in forming partnerships have volunteered to collaborate on this.