Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Centre for Plant Conservation 2012-2013

Bob Makinson - Conservation Botanist

The Conservation Botanist and other Trust staff are a primary source of information on threatened species and threat processes for a variety of clients and stakeholders, including other sections of the Office of Environment and Heritage, the NSW Scientific Committee, other agencies, ecological consultants, and community groups. Servicing inquiries from these sectors, and contributing to their conservation strategy planning, is a large part of our contribution to the overall conservation effort. The Conservation Botanist is a member of the steering group for the OEH’s new ‘Save Our Species’ program (formerly PAS2), the State’s main planning instrument for threatened species and threat abatement.

A continued area of work by some Trust scientists is the recently arrived plant pathogen Eucalyptus Rust (Puccinia psidii sens. lat.), known in Australia as Myrtle Rust, which is now naturalised in eastern Australia and infects species of the family Myrtaceae. The main focus of the Conservation Botanist’s role has been further delivery of advanced awareness and education courses, in partnership with agencies and the non-government Australian Network for Plant Conservation. This year, three courses were delivered on Lord Howe Island, a World Heritage estate with five endemic species of Myrtaceae, co-sponsored by the Lord Howe Island Board and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and input was made to the Board’s revision of the island’s quarantine procedures. A further four full-day courses were delivered in regional centres in Western Australia, in partnership with the WA Department of Environment & Conservation, the WA Department of Agriculture and Food, and the WA Forest Products Corporation, and our input was sought for DECWA’s preparedness plan. The Conservation Botanist is also a member of the Commonwealth’s Scientific Advisory Group under the national Myrtle Rust Transition to Management program.
Facilitation of specific threatened species recovery work for the year included:

  • Involvement in the recovery program for the Tumut Grevillea (Grevillea wilkinsonii), with the collection of more than 1000 seed for planned replantings after the lossof 60% of wild populations during the 2012 floods;
  • Provision of expert advice to a technical workshop convened by Lake Macquarie City Council on recognition and management of the Threatened species Grevillea parviflora subsp. parviflora; thiscollaboration will extendinto 2014 via the production of an on-line identification role forCouncil and OEH staff and others, and assistance with a wider genetic study based at the University of Melbourne and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.
  • Field survey with OEH staff of the Critically Endangered Asterolasia buxifolia, raising the number of known wild plants from less than 100 to more than 500.

Training sessions were delivered at workshops on threatened speciestranslocation techniques and germplasm conservation, held at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, and a briefing on national experiences in the use of translocation for conservation was delivered at an OEH Climate Change Adaptation workshop.





Mature small trees of Native Guava (Rhodomyrtus psidioides) killed by repeated infections of Myrtle Rust, west of Byron Bay NSW.

Photo: K. Kupsch