Conservation Science at the Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan
The Botanic Gardens trust established a new population of Wollemi Pines at a new location in 2012. Why? The three sites with Wollemi Pines are all in the same catchment in the Blue Mountains, and so the risk of losing the entire wild population of Wollemi Pines in a single catastrophic event, like a fire, is high. Establishment of a new population some distance from the original population reduces this risk, following the principle of “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”.
One hundred and ninety-one Wollemi Pines were planted at the new site in August 2012. The translocation site in the Blue Mountains was chosen because it matched the warm temperate rainforest community characteristic of the wild site and had land tenure that was secure in the long term. Because of research indicating that seedling growth increased with light, at the translocation site the seedlings were planted along a light gradient, from deep in the rainforest (like the wild site) up to the woodland-rainforest edge.
So far, the survival rate of the translocated seedlings is 83% - with higher survival where there is more available light. Moreover, some plants have shown growth rates of almost 30 cm (in height) per year, much greater than the 1-2 cm per year seen in the wild. Monitoring of the translocated population is ongoing, and we can’t wait until these plants grow to produce seedlings of their own.