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The Australian PlantBank
The Australian PlantBank is a science and research facility of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and is located at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. It houses the Trust's seedbank and research laboratories that specialise in horticultural research and conservation of Australian native plant species, particularly those from New South Wales.
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The Australian PlantBank is open Monday-Friday 10 am to 4 pm.
Click here for further visitor information.
Several self-guided tours will soon be available as smartphone apps - in the meantime you can follow these links to see info and maps.
Click here to see Frequently Asked Questions about PlantBank.
The Australian PlantBank incorporates a seed vault (formerly the NSW Seedbank) and other Australian Botanic Garden living collections such as tissue cultures and orchid mychorrizal fungi. In the future, PlantBank may also house collections of fern spores and other potential regenerative entities. Some of our native plants do not produce seed or produce seed that can’t be stored in conventional seed storage systems. For those tricky plants the Australian PlantBank will provide alternative storage systems such as tissue culture or cryogenic storage at temperatures as low as -180°C to -196°C. Click here to find out more about plant banking.
A science initiative
Innovation and growth in science is critical to a sustainable environment and human wellbeing. Now more than ever, environmental challenges necessitate immediate practical steps in scientific research and education. The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust is heir to almost 200 years of knowledge and expertise in plant science and has played a leading role in protecting plant diversity throughout that time. The Trust’s collections and scientific research are fundamental to informed decision making in areas of natural resource management, conservation planning and climate change response.
Continued growth in the Trust’s research capabilities is essential to ensure policy is informed by credible and robust information. PlantBank will facilitate this growth by being a world class research centre facilitating innovation, collaborative research and teaching programs. These programs will significantly improve science outcomes in areas of regional, national and international importance.
PlantBank will contribute to the preservation of the world’s plant diversity and ecological habitats; it will increase research capabilities leading to increased participation in international linkages and collaborations.
PlantBank will build upon the Trust’s scientific capability and enhance its statutory objective of disseminating knowledge about the plant life of Australia and New South Wales in particular.
Research outcomes will help deliver national and international targets set through the international Seedbank partnerships and research initiatives under the Convention of Biological Diversity and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.
PlantBank incorporates modern world-class research laboratories, seed storage facilities, climate controlled glasshouse infrastructure and specialised teaching laboratories. The facilities at PlantBank complement those associated with the National Herbarium of New South Wales at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. PlantBank can accommodate 50 research staff, students and local and international collaborative researchers at any one time. The interactive educational space can host several hundred students and visitors simultaneously. PlantBank will become a leading institution for education in plant science, invigorating the visitor experience through interactions with research findings and scientists giving valuable information on the important role of plants in our lives.
The PlantBank project
Construction of this internationally significant plant conservation facility commenced when the Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker dug the earth in south-west Sydney on 10 January 2012 at the ground-breaking ceremony . Minister Parker said 'PlantBank is vital for the future of Australian biodiversity. Located at the nation’s largest botanic garden, the $19.8 million scientific facility will incorporate its largest native seedbank.'
'While banks manage our money and futures, PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan will invest in nature', Ms Parker said. 'Millions of living seeds will be collected and deposited to preserve Australia’s biodiversity and establish a hub for research into the survival needs and life-giving properties of our plants. This bank really matters because if a species becomes extinct, no amount of money and no government on earth can bail it out. When we lose species, we lose threads in the web of life and untold potential for human health and well-being.'
The ultimate goal is to collect and store seeds or live tissue from all of Australia’s 25,000 plant species. Over 200 million living seeds may eventually be stored in its thermally-efficient, refrigerated vault, designed to withstand fire and other threats.
PlantBank is expected to attract local, national and international visitors and students, with opportunities to interact with scientists and advanced technology while learning about Australian plants. It will be a place to educate us all and inspire a new generation of scientists.
PlantBank is of global significance for the scientific community. The United Nations Environment Program identifies Australia as one of 12 mega diverse countries and fifth in the world for mega diversity of flora. More than 85 per cent of our plants are unique to the Australian wilderness. Threats to Australia’s mega diversity have increased dramatically over recent decades, in particular from land clearance and degradation, introduction of alien species, pollution, disease and climate change.
In New South Wales, ten per cent of our plant species are now at risk of extinction. This is a serious matter. Human life depends on plants - as does all life on earth. Eighty per cent of Australian plant species grow in this country and no where else (i.e. they are endemic here) and offer largely-untapped resources for human nutrition, health and well-being. PlantBank will be the place people come to study our rich and valuable native flora and will be a major centre of plant science for NSW, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, where the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust is spear-heading botanical research and conservation training.
As a structure, PlantBank is designed as a model of efficient sustainable design and implementation and the facilities have been designed and constructed for thermal efficiency and reduced energy consumption.