In line with the renaming of the Gardens in 1979 to reflect the national significance of the collection of Australian flora, a position of Director was created and filled.’ Several positions in the education section and seed store were also reclassified from industrial to technical.
Field work carried out in southern Western Australia and western New South resulted resulted in a substantial increase to the herbarium and the living plant collections at Canberra and at the Jervis Bay annexe.
Papers were presented at conferences dealing with the arid zone, interpretation, horticultural research and propagation of native plants. A special publication Australian Flora in the Endangered Species Convention - CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) was coauthored with the CSIRO and staff contributed chapters to Flora of Central Australia, to be published next year.
Staff also received research grants from the Australian Biological Resources Study and the World Wildlife Fund.
A co-operative program to evaluate the horticultural potential of the flora in Kakadu National Park was undertaken with the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service
A new edition of a handbook on the National Botanic Gardens was published and the first catalogue of the living plants supported by herbarium vouchers was prepared for publication. The catalogue contains more than 210 entries covering 1454 species. Information presented includes species name, collector, accession number and ecological and geographical data
The Department was represented at the annual meeting of the Committee of Heads of Australian Herbaria and the Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation, and an officer of the Herbarium was selected to be the Australian Botanical Liaison Officer in the United Kingdom during 1981-82.
Taxonomic research continued on the families Fabaceae (Daviesia, Brachysema and allied genera) and Epacridaceac (Rupicola). A study of the tribe Melothriae (family Cucurbitaceae), preliminary work on the family Rhamnaceae and a collaborative study of the series Juliflorae of the genus Acacia were begun.
Investigations of the Australian non-vascular flora resulted in records of mosses not previously recorded. Horticultural research continued into subjects including symbiotic relationships in orchid propagation, tissue culture and nutrition of native plants.
During 1979-80 more than 7000 school children participated in the educational program of the Gardens. Plant propagation workshops were also introduced for adults but unfortunately the Gardens could not fully meet the public demand.
Construction of a large rockery was completed and 600 specimens planted. Two new glasshouses were built to house the growing collection of tropical plants.
A program to improve access to the Gardens for disabled people continued. A donation of two wheelchairs from the Canberra-Belconnen Rotary Club for use by visitors to the Gardens was accepted by Senator John Knight on behalf of the Minister.