Extracted from the Director of National Parks Annual Report 1995 - 1996


Annual Report 1995-1996

The mission of the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) is:

To grow, study and promote Australia’s flora

The ANBG is a major scientific and educational resource, maintaining Australia’s most comprehensive display of living native plants. The ANBG occupies 90 hectares on Black Mountain in Canberra and provides technical advice and assistance to the Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens, which is administratively incorporated into the Jervis Bay National Park.

In September 1991, the ANBG was proclaimed a reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975. The ANBG is managed in accordance with a Plan of Management that came into effect on 3 March 1994. The herbarium and botanical research components of the ANBG’s work are undertaken within the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, which is managed jointly by ANCA and CSIRO under an agreement signed on 22 November 1993.


The year under review saw a major effort to upgrade the outdoor plantings, with the planting out of 13 000 nursery stock plants. New developments included subthemes of the Sydney Basin flora and Tasmanian woodlands and a ‘pipe garden’ colour display, with major supplementation of a rock garden and cultivar bed.

Construction of a new primary pedestrian path began, linking major garden display themes. The route provides improved visitor access and orientation, and has been designed to a standard suitable for people with disabilities.

Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens

The Council met in October 1995 in Adelaide. During the year the Council established the Australasian Association of Botanic Gardens and supported the recently formed Network of Tropical and Subtropical Zone Regional Botanic

National and international liaison

Dr Helen Hewson represented the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and the Australian National Herbarium at the Fourth Botanic Gardens Conservation International Symposium held in Perth and the annual meeting of the Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria in Brisbane.

Mr Bob Makinson is the incumbent Australian Botanical Liaison Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England. This position is funded by the Australian Biological Resources Study and the employing institution—in this case, ANCA. The officer assists Australian botanists with herbarium and library enquiries on materials held at Kew and other British and European herbaria. The posting is for 12 months and provides an invaluable opportunity for the officer to liaise with peer scientists and to pursue individual research.

Dr Mark Clements, Mr David Jones, and Mr Heinar Streimann participated in liaison and field work in New Zealand, and Dr Mark Clements carried out similar work in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Jim Croft attended a workshop in San Diego funded by the United States National Science Foundation on establishing a United States Organisation for Biodiversity Information. Mr Croft participated in discussions on clearing house mechanisms for information arising from the Biodiversity Convention and met with developers of the prototype Indonesian Biodiversity Information System at Harvard University.

The ANBG’s Education Officer, Ms Julie Foster, was externally funded to participate in a workshop in Nanjing on setting up a botanic gardens educational network in China.


Centre for Plant Biodiversity research

The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research completed its first year following integration of collections, staff and programs from the ANBG and CSIRO’s Division of Plant Industry. Integration of the two different working cultures has brought with it a range of administrative challenges, an element of rivalry, and a realisation of expanded opportunities. Reviews of collections and data management, and of research, revealed sound and significant participation by ANBG officers in the Centre’s teams. Both reviews identified strengths and weaknesses. The enforced bilateral approach to databasing was identified as a problem, which was partially addressed towards the end of the year.

Australian National Herbarium

The annual Student Botanical Intern Program again attracted an increased number of participants. Twenty-one students took part, including one from Indonesia—seven more than in the previous year. In return for training in herbarium and related scientific practices the students assisted with a range of research activities and with curatorial support associated with integrating the collections of the ANBG and CSIRO’s Division of Plant Industry.
Approximately 90 per cent of the two collections is now integrated on the shelves.

Botanical research

The Orchidaceae continued to be the major research subject for ANBG staff at the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research. Research also continued on the following families:
Hookeriaceae (mosses), Zamiaceae (cycads), Cucurbitaceae (squash family), Proteaceae (protea family) and Myrtaceae (myrtle family). Research on the Hookeriaceae was supported by funds from the Australian Biological Resources Study.
Sixteen research papers were published and text on some fern families was submitted for publication in the Flora of Australia series.

Data Management

As part of ANCA’s restructure, responsibility for the technical hardware and network components of the ANBG’s Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS) was transferred to the Information Technology Unit, with botanical application development and database management remaining with the Information Resources Unit. Consultants were engaged to integrate the two herbarium specimen databases of the Australian National Herbarium, together with the Australian Plant Name Index, to form a single application accessible by ANCA and CSIRO staff, and through the Internet.

The ANBG’s World Wide Web information server received several awards from Internet ratings agencies during the year. Use of the server increased enormously over the previous year. The server was accessed 3.7 million times and delivered information to 282 000 different hosts in 112 countries world-wide. The server’s site address is: http: / /www.anbg.gov.au/anbg.

Living collections

The living collections consist of 80 000 plants representing almost 6000 species. The majority of these are grown in the 280 outdoor garden beds but about 10 000 plants of some 2000 tender species are grown in manipulated glasshouse environments. Specimens of another 1800 difficult-to-grow species are kept in pots in the nursery, but wherever possible these are being planted in carefully located and prepared niches in the outdoor beds.

Horticultural Research

Responsibility for horticultural research continued to be carried by one research scientist. Research support was largely provided by volunteers. However, selection procedures for the appointment of a research assistant in 1996—97 have been completed.

Research facilities were overhauled and upgraded, and the laboratory and greenhouses are now fully functional. Responsibility for operation of the seed store was transferred to the horticultural research scientist. Research into the development of Haemodorum coccinneum as a flower crop continued, with $41 000 sponsorship from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC). Preliminary studies for several new projects were undertaken including the development of three sub-antarctic species as food crops, the use of grafting to improve native flower crops, and the selection of new flower crops for cool climates. These commercially oriented projects are being developed with considerable participation from such industry organisations as the Flower Export Council of Australia, the Sapphire Coast Producers Association, the Australian Flower and Protea Growers Association and the joint industry/government funding bodies RIRDC and the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation.


Planning was completed in 1994—95 for stage 1 of a new nursery, trades and horticultural complex, a project identified in the Plan of Management. However, funding was not available to commence work in 1995—96. A draft master plan for the ANBG site, prepared by the National Capital Planning Authority in accordance with statutory requirements for national land, was released for public comment during the year. The revised master plan was referred to the Minister for consideration.

Australian Cultivar Registration Authority

The Australian Cultivar Registration Authority, based at the ANBG, was established in 1963 to register the names of cultivars derived from Australian plant species. The year saw significant changes to the operation of the Authority. As plant breeders’ rights applications now far outnumber cultivar registrations, procedures for dealing with all applications were changed to speed up the process. An approach has also been made to the Horticultural Research and Development Corporation for a grant for the colour coding of native species to assist with assessment of plant breeders’ rights applications.

Australian Network for Plant Conservation

The Australian Network for Plant Conservation aims to promote communication and to advise on plant conservation efforts in Australia.

Established in 1991, the Network’s membership is drawn from the public, government and private sectors in Australia and internationally, and was over 250 at 30 June 1996. Funding and support come from the Endangered Species Program, the ANBG and from membership fees.

The Network held its second national conference in Perth in September 1995, followed by the ANPC Advisory Committee’s annual meeting. The five regional groups met regularly throughout the year. Working groups produced draft guidelines and recommendations for translocation of threatened plants and for germplasm conservation, and information for plant conservation in Australia. Four issues of the newsletter D anthonia were published during the year.

Mr Mark Richardson, national coordinator and principal founder of the Network, left to take up the position of Curator of Botany at the Desert Wildlife Park, Alice Springs.

Visitor services

Visitor numbers recorded for the ANBG in 1995—96 totalled almost 338 000, with additional unrecorded visitors to several large events where parking spilled out to adjacent vacant land. Visitors in the previous year totalled 327 500.
The Information Centre provided a seven-days-a- week service for visitors. Staff worked closely with the licensees operating the Botanical Bookshop to ensure that the Centre worked as an integrated unit. The ANBG continued to offer visitors a range of recreational activities including school holiday programs, interpreted walks and musical performances.

The Education Service continued to attract large numbers of primary, secondary and tertiary students to its environmental education and horticulture programs. Assistance was provided to 17200 students and their teachers from all parts of Australia. New teaching materials produced under the banner Discover ... were:

The ANBG also cooperated with the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in producing a children’s booklet to accompany the exhibition ‘It’s a Rare Thing Too’.
Volunteer guides offered regular tours throughout the year and were particularly busy during spring. Some 3300 visitors availed themselves of these regular guided tours during the year and another 1300 people were taken on special tours, an overall increase of 1500 over the previous year.

In addition, the following services were offered in 1995–96:

Photographic collection

The collection includes slides of Australian flora, a representative range of vegetation types and pictorial records of developments at the ANBG. It is linked through the IBIS database to plant specimens vouchered in the herbarium. Use of the collection by researchers, students and publishers is encouraged. During the year government departments and other publishers were licensed to use slides from the collection in text books, environmental leaflets and tourism guides.

The National Plant Photographic Index lists the highest quality named slides of plant species in the collection. A leaflet promoting the Index was produced during the year and distributed to known botanical photographers, publishers and the general public with the intention of encouraging donations of botanical slides to the collection. Donations made under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme added 200 slides to the collection.

A major collection of 1300 botanical slides taken by Colin Totterdell was transferred to the ANBG by the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry.

Copying the best slides of each plant species onto- Kodak Photo CD continued, as both a security measure and a means of making electronic images available. A selection of slides of the genus Leptospermum and plants of Norfolk Island were copied to CD during the year.

A collection of slides documenting the natural and social history of the parks and reserves administered by ANCA is housed at the ANBG. Employment of a person on a short-term contract enabled about one-third of these slides to be databased during the year.

Table I: Overview of the photograph collection 1995–96

Photographs in the collection


Plant portraits and habitats

20 000

Vegetation and landscaping

9 951

Use of the collection in 1995–96


Borrowed for lectures

1 177

Duplicated for repeated use


Released for publication


Updated October 17, 2006 by Webmaster (anbg-info@anbg.gov.au)