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A Disaster Recovery Plan for the Australian National Herbarium


2.1 Prevention

Prevention involves identification of potential hazards and taking steps to minimize the chances of any such hazards eventuating. Many prevention measures have become standard practice in operational arrangements of both the ANBG and CSIRO and are set out in building maintenance arrangements, OH&S guidelines, fire protocols and emergency procedures and will not be duplicated here. However, prevention also involves ongoing awareness among staff about any signs of deterioration in standards of prevention measures in place, and a consciousness about any extra steps that could be taken to further reduce risks. This involves an awareness of the potential threats to the collections. For this reason, the most likely threats to the collections at the current time are outlined below for staff to consider. Staff should raise any concerns or suggestions about risk minimisation and disaster prevention measures with the Curator or Deputy Director – Science and Information.

2.1.1 Possible Threats To The ANH Collections

This plan considers only threats to the Collection that result from an emergency. Protection of the Collection from insect damage is considered to be part of the day-to-day management of the Collection. The plan does not consider action to be taken in the case of catastrophic events from terrorism, acts of war etc.

The main threats to the collection can be divided into 3 main categories: fire, water and physical damage.


Fire could originate from either external or internal sources. External sources include the risk of bush fire and lightning strikes. These risks are very real for both the ANBG and CSIRO sites, given their location at the base of Black Mountain and their close proximity to bushland.

Internal risks of fire are ever-present with our widespread reliance on the use of electrical appliances, such as desk lamps, heaters, computers, power boards and other equipment within the Collection buildings. Other possible sources of fire could include chemical spills. The two molecular labs and the hazardous liquids storeroom, all on the second floor of the CSIRO site, are the most likely sites of fire caused by chemical spills.


Water hazards can originate from either external or internal sources. External sources include storms that could cause water leaks in the building or localized external flooding that seeps into the building. Storms could also cause structural damage to the building that could provide a point of entry for water.

The most likely external sources of water damage from external sources are considered to be from the roof when gutters are clogged with litter debris, when structural damage has occurred or flooding in the basement area of the CSIRO site when excessive run-off cannot be handled by the outside storm water drains. Staff have noted a site of leakage into the basement of the link between buildings 502 and 502A on the CSIRO site, and provisions have been made to ensure specimens in the vicinity are out of harms way. This site needs to be monitored in periods of heavy rain.

Internal sources of water damage include leaks or accidental discharge from internal plumbing such as from the internal sprinklers, fire hoses, burst water pipes, overflowing sinks etc. As the sprinkler system at the CSIRO site is a ‘dry’ system, the ANBG sprinkler system is considered to be at greater risk from accidental sprinkler leakage. The ANBG collection compactus’ and some of the CSIRO compactus’ are covered on top. Coverings have a lip designed to stop water leaking down between the closed compactus’. This provides limited protection from overhead water leaks but would not withstand full-scale sprinkler discharge.

Physical Damage

Physical damage to the collection could arise from damage to the building (e.g. structural failure or storm damage) resulting in damage to the collection, or from unauthorized entry leading to theft or vandalism of Collection materials. Maintenance arrangements for all large trees in proximity to the buildings minimises the chance of damage to the building from a tree falling on it during a storm. Security arrangements at both sites minimise the risk of the unauthorised access. However it should be noted that security arrangements are not fail-safe. Systems failure is always a possibility and people should be cautious of unauthorized people, particularly at the ANBG site where formal security arrangements are only in operation after hours. There also is the potential for the security system to fail if it is impaired in some way associated with the disaster.

Prevention - Summary

The greatest threats to the collections are considered to be from fire and water. Physical damage is considered to be less likely. However a worst-case scenario could involve all three hazards occurring simultaneously. Staff should be mindful of any signs of problems arising in these areas. The actions described in this Plan can be broadly applied to a range of different circumstances involving any or all of these three primary hazards.

2.2 Preparedness

Preparedness involves:

2.2.1 The Disaster Response Team

(See Appendix E for contact details and section 4 for specific duties of the disaster response team)

The Collections Recovery Coordinator is the Deputy Director Science and Information (at ANBG) and the Director of the CPBR (at CSIRO), or the officer acting in either of these positions.

The Back-up Emergency Coordinator is the Curator, common to both sites (or the officer acting in this position).

The Salvage Controller(s) are:

The Facilities Coordinator is the Collections Coordinator and/or the Curation Coordinator at CSIRO; and the herbarium technician at ANBG.

A Conservator(s) may be brought in from externally if required.

The Recovery Team (s) are any staff or volunteers that are able to assist, preferably having undertaken disaster recovery training.

2.2.2 Training of a Disaster Response Team

The ANH is committed to providing training for staff at both the ANBG and CSIRO sites, in the area of disaster awareness and recovery. All staff involved with collections support and maintenance are expected to attend a disaster preparedness course.

2.2.3 Recovery Work Areas

Collection locations

At the ANBG site the collections are housed in four locations, all of which are marked on floor plans and site maps given in Appendix B. The Herbarium and the library are both located on level 1 of the Botany building, the photographic unit is housed in the Ellis Rowan Building adjoining the Café, and live specimens (in growth cabinets) are located in the demountable building at the horticultural research cottage.

At CSIRO the majority of botanical specimens are housed in compactus’ in three rooms; two rooms in the basement (called level 1) and 1 large room on level 2, marked on floor plans given in Appendix B. In addition to these main locations a number of specimens are stored in various places throughout the building. For example there are frequently a significant number of specimens areas such as the mounting room, preparation room, loans area and in peoples offices. The library collection is located in two adjoining rooms on Level 2 (see floor plan Appendix B). Live specimens are located in growth cabinets on Level 1. Live specimens at CSIRO are located in growth cabinets in the Quarantine Room on Level 1.

Possible On-site Recovery Centres

In the case of an emergency, the following locations may be utilised for air-drying/aerating collection materials or for temporary storage of collection materials (either undamaged materials or physically damaged materials that are stable (i.e. dry)).


Possible Off-Site Recovery Centres

It may be possible to utilise space at one of the DISACT member organisations. This would need to be arranged at the time of the emergency.

2.2.4 Supply of Equipment and Materials

Supplies of materials for use in case of emergency are housed in red disaster bins located in each recovery area. Other materials are also housed in storage cupboards on both sites, the site store at CSIRO, external commercial service providers and possibly from assisting agencies via our membership with DISACT. Limited freezer space, and drying facilities are available on both sites.

Disaster Bins

Disaster bins are large red plastic ‘wheelie bins’ located in each collection area. Each bin should be kept stocked to include the following items:

• Face masks (1 box)
• Buckets x3
• Clipboard and paper x3
• Drychem chemical sponges
• Gloves x5
• Hard hats x5
• Laminated sheets*
• Light sticks
• Mops x3
• Plastic bags (A4 size)
• Plastic bags (large freezer bags)
• Plastic drying lines

*Laminated sheets:

  • Disaster Plan diagram (disaster timeline) (Figure 1)
  • Contents list of emergency bins (section 2.2.4)
  • Reaction (section 3)
  • Recovery
    • Important Principles for all Recovery Staff (section 4.1)
    • Role of the Collections Recovery Coordinator (section 4.2)
    • Role of the Photographer (section 4.3)
    • Role of the Facilities Coordinator (section 4.4)
    • Role of the Salvage Controller(s) (section 4.5)
    • Role of the Conservator (section 4.6)
    • Role of Recovery Team (section 4.7)
    • Recovery Procedures for ANBG Herbarium (section 4.8)
    • Recovery Procedures for CSIRO Herbarium (section 4.9)
    • Recovery Procedures for ANBG Library (section 4.10)
    • Recovery Procedures for ANBG Photographic Unit (section 4.11)
  • Site and Floor Plans (Appendix B)
  • Commercial Service Providers Contacts List (Appendix D)
  • Emergency Contacts (Appendix E)
  • Staff Contacts (Appendix F)
Location of Other Materials/Items

Oscillating fans – stored in the CSIRO store-room (Level 2, see floor plan in Appendix B for exact location)

Plastic sheeting (roll) - stored in the CSIRO store-room (Level 2, see floor plan in Appendix B for exact location) and in the Herbarium at the ANBG.

Cardboard boxes - stored at CSIRO in the Preparation Room, the Loans Room and Building 65 (see Appendix B for exact locations).

The CSIRO site store (see site map in Appendix B) has a range of different items eg cleaning items, mops, buckets, brooms, dustpans, bins, buckets, writing implements, plastic bags, plastic sheeting, etc.

A list of contact details for commercial services that may be useful in an emergency is given in Appendix D.

Other resources may be available for loan from member organisations of DISACT (see Appendix E for DISACT contact details).

Freezing Facilities

Freezer units are located in the Preparation Room on Level 1 at the CSIRO site and in the Cryptogam Preparation Room on the ground floor of the Botany building at the ANBG site as well as in the hallway approaching the entrance to ANBG Herbarium on level 2 (see floor plans in Appendix B).

Plant drying facilities

Plant drying facilities are located in the Preparation Room on Level 1 at the CSIRO site (see floor plans in Appendix B).



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