Viability, Outcomes & Measures
The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust has undertaken an extensive consultation process and viability assessment to give consideration to a range of options in relation to the Australian PlantBank proposal.
This process included a project initiation workshop with internal and external stakeholders in 2007 and a preliminary business case in 2008. The findings from this research are summarised below.
The option of doing nothing would result in significant consequences including:
- Vital research and information to inform climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and to manage the Stateís natural resources may be unavailable
- The NSW Seedbank could not expand and the preservation of the current collection would remain at risk
- Contemporary technological requirements to support research in core areas of concern (ecological and horticultural responses to climate change and other environmental stimuli) would not be met
- The Trustís ability to secure external grant funding for research would be hampered and no change would be possible to the current level of research
- The option of expanding and modifying current facilities was also eliminated on the basis that it failed to resolve the Trustís issues and created additional accommodation issues and inadequacies.
The overall conclusion of the consultation and viability assessment is that the unique outcomes of PlantBank could not be realised another way. This conclusion was also reiterated in the NSW Treasury Strategic Gateway Review (November 2008), PlantBank Business Case (November 2009) and the NSW Treasury Business Case Gateway Review (November 2009).
Whilst the Trust has a number of strategies in place to manage demand on facilities - including research partnerships to utilise the facilities of partner institutions and/or to leverage funding through collaborative research grants - these are short term and will not address future demands. Future demands include the need for information to address threats to biodiversity, including the impact of climate change, and other vegetation and biodiversity priorities.
- PlantBank will deliver world class research facilities and results, leading to a significant increase in the dissemination of research findings and the generation of robust and innovative solutions to environmental challenges
- A centralised resource facility for the delivery of plant and vegetation information and expertise. PlantBank will link seamlessly with the National Herbarium of New South Wales and the Trustís on-line plant reference system PlantNET
- The dissemination of research findings and practical information to conserve the environment and minimise the effects of climate change to as broad an audience as possible, including the general public, students, national and international research institutions and Government
- Expansion of the capacity of the NSW Seedbank to provide longterm seed storage of the Stateís plants, contributing to global conservation targets and supporting the restoration of degraded native ecosystems through Catchment Management Authorities and National Parks and Wildlife Service
- The development of strategic partnerships with universities to establish PlantBank as a centre of excellence for learning about New South Wales ecosystems. This indicator includes plans to develop an undergraduate degree on natural and managed ecosystems and postgraduate programs.
The real value and success of PlantBank will be measured in the long term. It will be judged by the quality of the seed collection, processing, documentation and storage programs that will deliver seeds from endangered native species preserved for future use. In the short to medium term, PlantBank will be assessed by quantitative measures which include: Documentation, preservation and restoration of endangered New South Wales native species:
- An increase in the number of viable collections accessioned into the NSW Seedbank - currently 370 per annum
- An increase in the number of requests for access to the Collection by national and international researchers and community conservation groups. The number of requests currently received by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust is approximately 30 per annum.
Enhanced scientific research output:
- An increase in the dissemination of research results. In 2009/10 the Trust issued 152 peer reviewed plant science publications and presentations to scientific audiences and 60 general publications and presentations
- An increase in the number of postgraduate students supervised
- An increase in the number of undergraduate students participating in formal scientific education in the NSW Seedbank/horticultural research area of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust from 20 to 100 by 2017-18
- Increased external funding for research projects.
Pimelea spicata, a threatened species from the Cumberland Plain Woodland.
Testing the viability of seeds in the laboratory.