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Our organisation

Botanic Gardens of Sydney is a purpose-driven organisation committed to providing solutions to critical environmental challenges facing all life on earth and improving the quality of people’s lives through joyous connections to inspiring public spaces. Our vision is to see people, communities, institutions and industries informed and inspired by power of plants and to support their conservation.

We are the stewards of three world-leading botanic gardens, Australia’s premier botanical research institute, and one of the country’s most loved urban parklands.

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Situated within Gadigal land along the shores of Sydney Harbour, the Garden features an outstanding horticultural collection from all over the world, is Australia’s longest continuously operating scientific institution, and one of the nation’s premier tourist attractions.

The Domain
Endowed with significant natural and cultural heritage values, these 34 hectares of urban parkland in Sydney’s CBD play a vital role in the city’s large-scale festivals and cultural events, in addition to the recreational and sporting pursuits of city workers and residents.

Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan
Recognised as Australia’s largest botanic garden, this 416-hectare horticultural showcase of Australian flora situated on Dharawal country is one of Greater Sydney’s most loved public spaces. A growing scientific hub, the Garden is home to the National Herbarium of New South Wales and the Australian PlantBank.

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah
Located on Dharug country within the World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains Area, the Garden is a showcase of local and imported cool climate plants and alpine rainforest. Situated 1,000 metres above sea level, it encompasses 28 hectares of curated garden and a further 244 hectares of wilderness.

Botanic Gardens of Sydney is the organisation working on behalf of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, which is established under the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Act 1980.

The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust is a statutory body established by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Act 1980. The Act was amended in 1983 to increase the number of Trustees from five to seven, and in 1985 to vest additional land in the Trust. The legislation defines the powers, authorities, duties and functions of the Trust and vests certain land and property in the Trust. It also governs the Regulations relating to all three Gardens and the Domain.

Trust objectives

  • To maintain and improve Trust lands, the National Herbarium of New South Wales and the collections of living and preserved plant life owned by the Trust
  • To increase and disseminate knowledge about the plant life of Australia, and of New South Wales in particular
  • To encourage the public use and enjoyment of Trust lands by promoting and increasing the educational, historical, cultural and recreational value of these lands.


Philip Marcus Clark AO 

  • Appointed: 11 July 2018
  • Current Term Expiry: 1 November 2023

Philip was Managing Partner and CEO of Minter Ellison and worked with that firm from 1995 until June 2005. Prior to joining Minter Ellison, Philip was Director and Head of Corporate with ABN Amro Australia and a Managing Partner of Mallesons Stephen Jaques.

Philip is a member of the JP Morgan Advisory Council and now serves on a number of boards and advisory boards. His appointments include listed and private companies, government and university boards.

His current roles include Chair of SCA Property Group (SCP), Australian Antarctic Science Council, NSW Skills Board and NSW Public Purpose Fund, a Director of Food Agility CRC and a Council Member of Charles Sturt University. Philip has also worked with various organisations in the not-for-profit sector.

He was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2007 for his contribution to the development of national law firms and encouraging corporate involvement in community programs, and was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2019 for distinguished service to education, research and infrastructure investment and to the not-for-profit sector.

Other Trustees

Distinguished Professor Michelle Leishman 

  • Appointed: 11 January 2017
  • Current Term Expiry: 31 December 2024

Michelle is an internationally recognised scientist with research interests in plant ecology, plant conservation biology, climate change adaptation and urban greening. She is a highly cited scientist with over 170 published papers and book chapters. Michelle has previously served as the Chair of the NSW Scientific Committee, Deputy Director of the Biodiversity Node of the NSW Adaptation Hub and member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts.

She currently serves as a Councillor of the Australian Flora Foundation and as a Director of Bush Heritage Australia. She is the Director of Macquarie University’s Smart Green Cities and leads a consortium of researchers and industry on the Which Plant Where project to facilitate climate-smart species selection for urban greening.

Penelope Diamantakiou

  • Appointed: 5 September 2018
  • Current Term Expiry: 1 November 2023

Penny is an accomplished corporate executive with 20-plus years of experience extending across multiple sectors including digital media, e-commerce, broadcast, telecommunications, manufacturing, government and professional services. She is a transformative and visionary leader experienced in spearheading whole-of-company turnarounds and driving executive vision with a view to delivering to the bottom line. Penny has extensive experience in both B2B and B2C business models with a strong passion to leverage digital technology, customer data and insights to transform the future of business. Penny has operated in highly complex multinational environments with corporate ownership structures extending across ASX-listed companies, US global multinationals, wholly owned subsidiaries and Asian and US operated headquarters.

Penny was a winner of the 2015 Telstra Women’s Business Awards NSW (Corporate & Private). She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD), holds an MBA from the University of Adelaide where she earned Dean’s List and Top Law Student accolades (Norman Waterhouse annual achievement). She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Management, is a FCPA and has a Bachelor of Economics majoring in Accountancy.

Tony Pearson

  • Appointed: 5 September 2018
  • Current Term Expiry: 31 December 2024

Tony is an experienced strategic and financial advisor, with a career of over 20 years across banking, corporate, infrastructure funds management, regulatory and board roles. He is currently Chair of ASX listed Peak Resources, ASX listed Cellnet, and a non-executive director of ASX listed Xanadu Mines, as well as a non-executive director of Communicare and the Foundation & Friends of the Botanic Gardens.

Tony was recently a Commissioner at the Independent Planning Commission, and held non-executive positions with Regnan, International Grammar School and Aspire Mining. He was previously a Managing Director at HSBC, and prior to this held various senior executive roles with SouthGobi Resources and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. Tony has been admitted as a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a B Comm (with Merit) from the University of NSW.

Giselle Collins

  • Appointed: 1 January 2019
  • Current Term Expiry: 1 January 2024

Giselle is a company Director with significant executive experience in property, tourism and financial services. Giselle has previously chaired the boards of Aon Superannuation Pty Ltd (as Trustee for Aon Master Trust), the Travelodge Hotel Group and the Heart Research Institute, and served on the boards of Big4 Holiday Parks, Minjerribah Camping and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.

She is currently Chair of Darwin Hotel as nominee for Indigenous Business Australia. Giselle also sits on the ASX listed boards of Hotel Property Investments Limited (HPI), Peak Resources Limited (PEK) and Cooper Energy Limited (COE). She also sits on the board of APRA regulated subsidiary of GDG being Generation Life.

Giselle has a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Sydney and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance & Investments from the Securities Institute of Australia. Giselle is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and New Zealand.

Giselle is also member of the Advisory Council of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science (AIBS) as nominated by the RBGDT.

Debra Townsend

  • Appointed: 28 November 2018  
  • Current Term Expiry: 31 October 2025

Debra is a Partner at King Wood Mallesons law firm specialising in environment and planning. Debra has over 30 years’ experience in both litigation and commercial property work, and significant experience acting for State government entities and private land owners on matters including land acquisition for road and rail projects, heritage, biodiversity conservation, water and wastewater, major infrastructure projects, planning and environmental approvals, contaminated land, enforcement and compliance issues, waste and liability issues.

Debra also advises on governance, conflicts, pecuniary interest and code of conduct issues. Debra holds both Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of NSW.

Mark Fleming

  • Appointed: 31 October 2018
  • Current Term Expiry: 31 October 2025

Mark is an experienced finance executive, with over 25 years’ experience in investment banking and senior finance roles for major ASX listed companies. Mark is currently Chief Financial Officer and an Executive Director of SCA Property Group, an ASX200 listed A-REIT and the largest owner of convenience-based shopping centres in Australia.

Previously, Mark was the Chief Financial Officer of Treasury Wine Estates and prior to that held senior finance roles with Woolworths Group Limited, including General Manager Supermarkets Finance and General Manager Corporate Finance. Prior to these corporate roles Mark was an investment banker, advising companies both in Australia and overseas in relation to mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings. Mark has Law and Economics (honours) degrees from the University of Sydney.

Chief Executive
Denise Ora 

Chief Scientist and Director, Science, Education & Conservation
Professor Brett Summerell

Director, Horticulture & Living Collections
John Siemon

Director, Experiences, Partnerships & Engagement
Carla Armanet

Director, Finance, Property & Corporate Services
Kathleen Kenihan

Director, Asset Management, Planning & Projects
George Salouros

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust is a statutory body established under the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Act 1980.

Under section 7 of the Act, the principal objects of the Trust are:

(a) to maintain and improve the Trust lands, the National Herbarium and the collections of living and preserved plant life owned by the Trust,

(b) to increase and disseminate knowledge with respect to the plant life of Australia, and of New South Wales in particular, and

(c) to encourage the use and enjoyment of the Trust lands by the public by promoting and increasing the educational, historical, cultural and recreational value of those lands.

When acting in pursuance of its objects, the Trust shall give particular emphasis to encouraging and advancing the study of systematic botany, and to plant conservation.

Any inquiries concerning the Act can be directed to:

Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust
Mrs Macquaries Road
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: + 61 2 9231 8111

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Act 1980 provides for the making of a regulation. The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Regulation 2013 addresses use of Trust lands for organised activities, fees and charges for parking, entry, camping, disposal of waste, land protection, restrictions on recreational and commercial activities, vehicles on Trust land, conduct of visitors, requests to leave Trust land, requirement to provide name and address and offences.

Copies of the Act and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Regulation 2013 can be located on the Government of New South Wales Legislation Home Page.

Please note: in order to comply with current New South Wales Government requirements, we only print a limited number of hard copy Annual Reports each year for accessibility and research purposes. If you would like a hard copy, you can order this by:

  • Visiting the reception on Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

  • Phoning on (02) 9231 8111

  • Emailing at


We are committed to providing information in an accessible format. If you have any accessibility issues regarding access to the Annual Report please contact us directly to discuss your particular needs.