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Lachlan Macquarie Medal

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust honours Professor HONG, De-Yuan

'People have passports but plants do not recognise national borders, so botanists should have more frequent and stronger international cooperation than scientists in other fields' said Professor HONG, De-Yuan, recipient of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust’s inaugural Lachlan Macquarie Medal.

On Tuesday 8 May, Professor HONG, De-Yuan was presented with the Lachlan Macquarie Medal, an award for international excellence in any aspect of the business of modern botanic gardens, by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales. 

During a glittering evening reception at Government House, Professor HONG treated esteemed guests, including The Honourable Robyn Parker, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, and the Consul General for the People’s Republic of China, HE Duan Jie Long, to a highly informed public lecture, The Development of and Prospects for Botany in China.

Professor Hong spoke of the growth of botany which only began in China in the early twentieth century with the first collections by Chinese collectors (1916), the first herbarium (1918) and first botanic garden (1929). Today there are 234 botanic gardens and over 2500 nature reserves. Similarly, there has been huge growth in the number of significant research institutions and their collections to approximately 15 million sheets in about 300 herbaria of which 8-9 million have been digitized. China has over 31,000 plant species, including many rare and threatened species like the famous Ginkgo biloba.

Today China is investing huge financial resources into work focused on the inventory of plant diversity and taxonomic revision, E-Flora, DNA barcoding, and conservation of plant diversity and endangered and threatened plants.

The deserving recipient, Professor HONG, is a leader in Chinese botanical sciences and in the development of modern plant research in China. His achievements in systematics, morphology, cytology, ecology and, most recently, molecular evolution, have been widely acclaimed internationally.  He was one of the first botanists in China to carry out studies on the conservation biology of endangered and threatened plant species.

In partnership with eminent botanist, Professor Peter Raven, he has led the international group producing the Flora of China, a 50-volume series produced in English. Professor David Mabberley has contributed to Flora to China on citrus, while Trust scientist, Karen Wilson, helped write and edit treatments of the families of Casuarianceae and Cyperaceae for this great work. The Flora of China project began in 2001 and all volumes are scheduled to be published next year.

The medal honours Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who pronounced the land on the edge of Farm Cove as Sydney’s Botanic Garden on 13 June 1816. This legacy Governor Macquarie created is of great national significance. It is fitting that the first Lachlan Macquarie medal should honour a recipient who has brought the significance of his own nation’s botany to an international audience.

The Trust would like to commend the selection committee members: Professor Ian Chubb AC, Australia’s Chief Scientist; John Egan and Professor Lesley Hughes, Trustees, Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust; Professor David Mabberley, Executive Director; Emeritus Professor Roy MacLeod, University of Sydney; and Peter Watts AM, former Director of Historic Houses Trust. 

The next Lachlan Macquarie Medal will be presented in 2014. 

Professor HONG, De-Yuan's speech (2 parts)

  

Macquarie Medal ceremony 

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