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4 Jun 2018

$60 million win for NSW's vital botanic sciences

One of the most significant investments for botanic sciences in NSW’s history was announced today, with confirmation that the NSW Government will build a new Centre of Innovation in Plant Sciences in Western Sydney. What this means is a $60 million package to position NSW as Australia’s leader in plant science and the single biggest investment into our vital botanic science in recent history!

Construction for the National Herbarium of NSW at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan will begin in 2019
Artist’s Impression: Construction for the National Herbarium of NSW at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan will begin in 2019.

What is the investment?

The package will fund a state-of-the-art innovation centre at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, making Western Sydney the new home of the National Herbarium of NSW, which is currently located at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
 
The Herbarium’s current building in Sydney, the Robert Brown Building, will then be rejuvenated into a globally visited, high-quality science, education discovery and engagement centre, showcasing the world-renowned work of botanists and scientists.
 
The new Herbarium will be co-located with the award-winning Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, to create Australia’s leading plant science precinct.
 

minister upton shelley james western sydney
Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, and Shelley James, Curator Manager of  National Herbarium of NSW. 

Protecting the collection

The Centre of Innovation in Plant Sciences at Mount Annan will be a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility created to protect the Gardens’ nationally and internationally significant collection of more than 1.4 million plant specimens dating back to those collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Cook’s voyage in 1770.

The herbarium collection has recently been valued at $200 million so it is imperative we have a facility that protects and safeguards this collection for our future generations.

As we approach the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s voyage to Australia, we will provide world class facilities to showcase our collection, such as the Banks & Solander specimens, and even more recent discoveries such as the Wollemi Pine.

As well as creating jobs today, it is important we inspire the generations of tomorrow.

Minister of the Environment and Heritage, the Hon Gabrielle Upton

Why move the Herbarium to Western Sydney?

Our scientists are driving vital research not only here in NSW, but across Australia and internationally. The new Herbarium will become the nation’s premier international botanic research facility for our scientists, and contribute to Western Sydney’s emergence as an important scientific hub and Australia’s fastest growing economy.

The Herbarium has been located within the Robert Brown Building since it was constructed in 1982. The building now has a lack of effective environmental controls placing the collection at risk. Additionally, the storage capacity in the Robert Brown Building will be exhausted by 2022 so it is now critical that we create a centre that fixes these deficiencies as well as allow our collection to grow and continue to work closely with other Herbaria around the world.

Several options were considered and assessed in detail to keep the Herbarium onsite in Sydney. However, in the end the preferred optimal outcome for ensuring the long-term protection of the collection was to build a new facility at Mount Annan linked to the existing award-winning PlantBank.

The scientists working here in Western Sydney will be tackling some of the most critical challenges facing humanity today.

Kim Ellis, Executive Director of the Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands

When will the project start?

In total the project will run for four years from shovel in the ground to the centre opening in 2022. Detailed planning is currently underway to define the requirements for the new Centre and the procurement will commence shortly through a design competition.

The successful design and contractor team will work with the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney to develop the design for the Western Sydney Centre, with the final concept design to be unveiled later in this year. Planning for the rejuvenation of the current Herbarium will also commence this year.

Construction will start in 2019 and generate more than 350 jobs throughout the construction project.

To learn more out about the project visit its Project Page here. 
 

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