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28 May, 2021

Operation Plant Rescue

A team of arborists and horticulturists from Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria has been deployed to Cairns on a plant rescue mission this week. The team will collect Australian plant material for the preservation of Australia’s precious biodiversity and to support the scientific work of the Gardens.

Working with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, this expedition is planning to gather valuable species from the Atherton Arboretum, CSIRO Tropical Forest Research Centre, home to more than 500 Australian forest species.

“This expedition is essential to preserve valuable plant specimens from other plant collections, which could be affected by climate change or habitat destruction,” says Peter Symes, Curator Horticulture at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. “It’s a great example of scientific  institutions working together and sharing expertise to collect and preserve plant collections and prevent loss of potentially unique genetic material.”

The plant material will be taken to Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and the propagules will be nurtured by the nursery team. The plants will then be used to expand the Gardens’ collection of Australian plants for protection and display in Melbourne’s Australian Forest Walk collection and other regional Victorian botanic gardens with varying climates and conditions.

The seeds gathered will be stored securely in the Victorian Conservation Seedbank or Nursery, for later use in conservation activities, such as repopulation after drought or bushfire.

In recognising the value of the plants, Plant Standards (Victoria) and Biosecurity Queensland are working with the team to also ensure biosecurity requirements are met.

The expedition was made possible by the generous funding of Portland House Foundation.

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