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About 5.6 million, or 44 per cent* of Australian adults visit a botanic garden at least once every year. After cinemas, people visit botanic gardens more than any other cultural venues.

*Figures used in this website are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys 1993-1995

Royal Botanic Gardens SydneyWhy do so many Australians visit botanic gardens?

A botanic garden is a place where visitors come for a host of reasons ­ for peace, relaxation, entertainment, recreation, education, botany and horticulture. Botanic gardens have a wide diversity of accurately identified living plants on display, accompanied by scientifically-based interpretive comment. They also offer cultural activities ­ visual arts, theatre, music and cinema ­ which broaden visitor experiences and extend ways in which plants and landscapes can be enjoyed.

More than a garden

All life on earth depends on plants, and botanic gardens have an important role as advocates for plants and for life on earth. Botanic gardens are places of research into botany, ecology and horticulture. Most major botanic gardens have educational facilities and programs for school students, teachers and the wider community. Australian botanic gardens, old and new, are committed to the conservation of plant biodiversity through education, displays and research, while at the same time maintaining their cultural heritage, including historical buildings.

An Australian network

Australiais major botanic gardens, one from each State and Territory, belong to an organisation known as the Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens. This organisation provides a basis for cooperation and the exchange of information between botanic gardens. It promotes plants, their appreciation and their cultivation at national and international levels.

Australian botanic gardens are playing an important role in both national and international conservation. Their holdings of living and preserved plants and seeds are an immense biological resource of information on plant biodiversity.

Flannel FlowerPlant conservation

The major impact botanic gardens have on conservation is to raise public awareness about the importance of biodiversity. This leads to an appreciation of the need to preserve natural habitats, to an understanding of the threats and consequences of loss of biodiversity, and to an appreciation of counteractive measures that can be taken. Botanic gardensi research is actively involved with conservation of plant species, whole communities and natural landscapes. Botanic gardens promote sustainable use and management of the natural environment, which is the foundation of conservation.

Biodiversity of the Australian flora

Like art galleries and museums, botanic gardens have curated collections Ð of living and preserved plants. Several Australian botanic gardens are associated with an Èherbariumi, which houses preserved plant specimens collected since European settlement, along with information on their localities and habitats. The combined collection of living and preserved plants held in Australian botanic gardens and herbaria represents the vast majority of knowledge on Australian plants and forms the national database of the diversity of the country's plants.

Brisbane Botanic GardensThreatened species protection programs

Many Australian botanic gardens are involved in projects that identify and protect particular rare or threatened species of plants. These projects may involve the mapping and monitoring of existing populations of plants in the wild, putting in place measures to conserve them in the wild ('in situ' conservation), researching methods for habitat management, or growing and propagating plants away from their natural habitats ('ex situ' conservation). Botanic gardens hold large numbers of plants in their living collections, including Australian native plants and plants from other countries, many of which are now rare or threatened in the wild. Some species of plants are extinct in their natural habitats and survive only because they are cultivated in botanic gardens.

Coordination at a national level

All the major botanic gardens are represented on the Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC) which plays a major role in coordinating and stimulating plant conservation activities in Australia. The Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens plays an important role in coordinating the programs undertaken by the eight major State and Territory botanic gardens, by maintaining an inventory of plants in botanic gardens across Australia, and helping the development of regional botanic gardens. The Council reports to the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) on a regular basis.

Botanic gardens educate people about horticulture and landscaping, plants and biological communities, and raise community awareness about biodiversity and plant conservation. They also make an important contribution towards cultural tourism in Australia.

Community amenity

Botanic gardens provide important social benefits to the community through the provision of cultural facilities, recreational areas, venues for public events and, in some gardens, horticultural therapy for the disabled and disadvantaged. Most importantly, they educate people about horticulture and landscaping, living plants and biological communities, and raise community awareness about biodiversity and plant conservation.

Royal Botanic Gardens MelbournePaying their way

More and more, Australiais botanic gardens are needing to become less dependent on the public purse. Like many overseas botanic gardens, a number now charge general entry fees or fees for special exhibits. Most provide cafes or restaurants for visitors, as well as merchandise in gardensi shops. Thirty-one per cent of visitors now spend money when they visit a botanic garden. Botanic gardens present a wonderful opportunity for sponsorship.

Services and commercial ventures

Many Australian botanic gardens provide services for which fees are paid Ð by the public, special interest groups, government agencies, educational institutions and industry. Such services include plant identification, horticultural, landscaping and arboricultural advice, and pest and disease diagnosis. Botanic gardens are also contributing increasingly to commercial horticultural industries. For example, by developing new varieties of Australian native plants suitable for gardens and the cut flower market.

Australian botanic gardens represented at the Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens meetings are:

Australian National Botanic Gardens,
Canberra, ACT

A botanic garden displaying native plants from all parts of Australia. Plants are grouped in themes based on aesthetics, classification or habitats. The Australian National Herbarium is managed jointly with CSIRO as part of the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research.

Location: Clunies Ross St, Black Mountain, ACT

Postal: GPO Box 1777, Canberra, ACT 2601

Ph: (02) 6250 9450,
Fax: (02) 6250 9599
e-mail: anbg-info@anbg.gov.au
website: http://www.anbg.gov.au/anbg

Botanic Gardens of Adelaide,
South Australia

Centrally located Adelaide Botanic Garden with major living collections and conservatories displaying plants from around the world.
Satellite gardens at Mt Lofty displaying temperate plants and Wittunga with South African and native Australian plants.
Well established public and schools programs.
Botanical research through the State Herbarium of South Australia and the Seed Conservation Centre.

Ph: (61 8) 8222 9311 
Fax: (61 8) 8222 9399

website: http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/botanicgardens/ 

NT BG logoGeorge Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens,
Northern Territory

Botanic gardens focusing on the tropical flora of northern Australia and other regions around the world. An active herbarium producing guides to the NT flora and research work in the recording and display of traditionally used plants.

Location: Geranium St, Stuart Park, Darwin, NT

Postal: PO Box 496, Palmerston, NT 0831
Ph: (08) 8981 1958,
Fax: (08) 8981 1647

website: http://www.nt.gov.au/paw/

Kings Park BG logoKings Park and Botanic Garden,
Perth, Western Australia

Located in West Perth and specialising in Australian native plants, especially those of WA, in natural conservation areas. Comprised of 18 ha of formal gardens, 40 ha of arboreta, and 270 ha of bushland. Also has cultural plantings. Active scientific program in research on ecology, conservation and management of native species.

Location: West Perth, WA 6005

Ph: (08) 9480 3600,
Fax: (08) 9322 5064

e-mail: postmaster@kpbg.wa.gov.au
website: http://www.kpbg.wa.gov.au

Mt Coot-tha BG logoBrisbane Botanic Gardens,
Mt Coot-tha, Queensland

A relatively new botanic garden displaying extensive collections of exotic and native species in themed beds or geographic regions, with a focus on public education and community access. An herbarium and planetarium are also on site. A second botanic garden, the City Botanic Gardens, showcases Brisbaneis horticultural heritage.

Location: Mt Coot-tha Rd, Toowong, Qld 4066

Ph: (07) 3403 2532,
Fax: (07) 3403 2552

e-mail: bcc.bbg@bit.net.au

RBG Melbourne logoRoyal Botanic Gardens Melbourne,

Excellent landscaping and horticulture featuring a collection of plants from around the world, satellite native plant garden at Cranbourne, SE of Melbourne. Education Service, large herbarium collections and botanical, conservation and horticultural research programs.

Location: Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra, Vic 3141

Ph: (03) 9252 2300,
Fax: (03) 9252 2350

e-mail: rbg@rbgmelb.org.au
website: http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/

RBG Sydney logoRoyal Botanic Gardens Sydney,
New South Wales

Displaying plants from around the world, with a cool-climate garden at Mount Tomah and Australian native plant garden at Mount Annan. Herbarium focusing on botanical, ecological and horticultural research.

Location: Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney, NSW 2000

Ph: (02) 9231 8111,
Fax: (02) 9251 4403

e-mail: inquiries@rbgsyd.gov.au
website: http://www. rbgsyd.gov.au

Tasmanian BG logoRoyal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens,
Hobart, Tasmania

An historic gardens overlooking the Derwent River with the largest public collection of conifers in the Southern Hemisphere and excellent horticultural and thematic displays. Active in environmental education and ex-situ conservation.

Location: Queens Domain, Hobart, Tas 7000

Ph: (03) 6234 6299,
Fax: (03) 6234 7719

e-mail: rtbg@rtbg.tas.gov.au

The Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens maintains a directory of all Australian botanic gardens, which you will find on the internet at http://www.anbg.gov.au/chabg/bg-dir

For more information on particular regional botanic gardens, contact the main botanic garden in your State.

Updated May 7, 2009 , Webmaster (anbg-info@anbg.gov.au)