All welcome to attend the global launch of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science at a free virtual event broadcast live on Facebook from 7pm Thursday 25 March 2021. Join a stellar lineup of special guests and learn more about how the Institute’s world-leading research and collections advance fundamental knowledge of plants and drive effective conservation.
The Institute brings together the people, with the physical and virtual scientific collections, research, services and facilities of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. Chief Botanist Dr Brett Summerell explains how the Institute’s activities will ensure the survival of all plants.
What is the Australian Institute of Botanical Science?
The Australian Institute of Botanical Science consists of the physical and virtual scientific collections, research, services and facilities and staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah.
The new Institute will be one of the nation’s premier botanical research organisations and will help ensure the survival of plants and build more resilient ecosystems for future generations. The diagram below sets out the components that make up the new Institute.
Staff at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science are building on over 200 years of advancing fundamental knowledge of plants. They bring exemplary expertise, knowledge and passion to our mission, and work with industry and governments, and collaborate with a national and global network to produce world class research. They are highly trained and are internationally renowned for their expertise in their chosen disciplines and are our greatest resource.
The Institute’s research programs are focused on themes that centre around the importance of plants in our lives, and the need to conserve and protect them for everyone’s benefit.
They focus on the need to provide a knowledge hub for Australian and New South Wales flora, documenting and describing new plants across the environment, conserving and protecting threatened species, and supporting and establishing resilient ecosystems, whether they be in the bush or in urban environments. The new Australian Institute of Botanical Science will serve this purpose.
National Herbarium of NSW
The Herbarium is one of the most significant botanical resources in the Southern Hemisphere, housing more than 1.4 million plant specimens. Scientists regularly discover, document and classify plants and algae, and seek to understand their relationships and evolution.
They explore ecosystems to document what is there and discover new species, and there are still many to be found. Every year, more than 8,000 botanical specimens are added to the Herbarium collection, which is essential for informing and making decisions about the conservation and management of our natural environment.
Construction of a new state-of-the-art National Herbarium of NSW is underway at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan. The new purpose built facility will protect the growing collection and will join the award-winning Australian PlantBank to ensure the survival of plants for generations to come.
A significant first step to move the Herbarium collection is digitisating the collection with Picturae capturing the specimens as a high-resolution digital images as part of our Digitisation project. By the time the collection is moved to the new Herbarium at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan in 2021, the collection will be fully accessible online.
Located at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, the Australian PlantBank is the award-winning home of plant conservation research, germplasm collection and storage in New South Wales. Its seed and tissue culture collections provide an insurance policy against extinction of native plants in the wild.
Approximately half of the almost 5000 species of plants found in New South Wales alone are stored in PlantBank’s seed vault, and about 67 per cent of threatened species from across the state have been carefully collected and are stored here.
Other plant science initiatives
Other Australian Institute of Botanical Science initiatives include:
- The new Research Centre for Ecosystem Resilience.
- Living Collections at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah and the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.
- The Daniel Solander Library located in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the oldest botanical research library in Australia established in 1852.
- The Centre for Education and Engagement, supporting education and outreach for the whole community, especially those providing science, technology, engineering and maths programs for school-aged children.
Feature image and text reproduced with permission from Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Learn more about the Australian Institute of Botanical Science.