4. Studying Australian Plants
4.1 Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research
Aim: In partnership with CSIRO, contribute to the successful management
of the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research to enable it to conduct botanical
and related research as a basis for the understanding, conservation, use and
sustainable management of Australian plants.
The CPBR was formed in November 1993 as a joint venture between the Director
of National Parks and CSIRO. The initial agreement to operate the Centre was
reviewed in 1999 and extended until April 2010. The purpose of the CPBR is to
provide a single institution and national focus for Commonwealth study of botanical
diversity. Major aspects of the agreement between the Gardens and the CPBR are
at Appendix 7.
The CPBR is composed of the Botany Section of the Gardens, the Australian Flora
Resources and Management Program of CSIRO Plant Industry, and a portion of staff
time from the Australian Biological Resources Study (Environment Australia).
Importantly for the Gardens, the CPBR manages the Australian National Herbarium
(ANH), the combined herbaria of the Gardens and the CSIRO.
Close links are maintained between the ANH and the Gardens so that the scientific
value of the living and photograph collections and information about them continues
to be enhanced and identification of the living specimens provided. Reciprocally,
the Gardens living and photograph collections are used to enhance CPBR studies
and the dissemination of scientific information.
The Gardens and CPBR work closely on all aspects of data management and in
determining priorities for collections development activities and fieldwork.
The CPBR manages a regional Public Reference Herbarium (covering the area south
of Wollongong to the Victorian border and west to around Wagga - including naturalised
exotic species and environmental weeds) and the Plant Enquiry Service for the
general public and acts as an adviser on scientific matters.
The CPBR is governed by a Board comprising representatives from Environment
Australia and CSIRO Plant Industry, with an independent external chair. Day-to-day
management and running of the CPBR is through an Executive Committee of both
Gardens and CSIRO staff, including the CPBR Director, the leaders of CPBR programs,
a representative from the Australian Biological Resources Study and the ANBG
CPBR activities are financed by annual recurrent contributions from the parent
organisations and the CPBR actively seeks external funding for research and
other projects. Staff from the Gardens Botany Section are seconded to
the CPBR and remain subject to the terms and conditions of employment of Environment
In this Plan, emphasis has been placed on those research activities within
CPBR which have the greatest input from staff of the Gardens.
- The Director of National Parks will contribute to the management of CPBR
through representation on the Board and its Executive in accordance with the
- In accordance with the agreement, the Director of National Parks will contribute
staff, financial resources and botanical resources to CPBR to conduct research
on the taxonomy, systematics, nomenclature, and the evolutionary and conservation
biology of Australian plants, and to manage the Australian National Herbarium.
- The CPBR will effectively meet the needs of its parent bodies, the Director
of National Parks and CSIRO (Plant Industry) and will encourage collaboration
between its programs and those of the Gardens.
- The Director of National Parks will be represented at meetings of the Board
of the CPBR, and relevant senior staff of the Gardens will be part of the
Executive managing the day-to-day operations of CPBR.
- The CPBR will be managed and operated as a collaborative venture with contributions
of staff and other resources provided by the Director of National Parks and
CSIRO on an annual basis.
- The CPBR will provide scientific authority, including reliable and verifiable
scientific names, for the Gardens living collections, the Photograph Collection,
and the interpretation functions of the Gardens.
- CPBR staff will contribute to the management of the Public Reference Herbarium
primarily by carrying out collections for species not currently represented
in the herbarium and keeping names of plants in the collection up-to-date
with an aim to complete 90% regional coverage.
4.2 Development, Management and Curation of the Herbarium Collection
Aim: Within the CPBR, to maintain a herbarium to the highest curatorial
standards and to further develop a taxonomically and geographically representative
scientific collection of preserved samples of Australian and related floras.
The Australian National Herbarium is a national sample of Australias
plant biodiversity, housing around 1.3 million specimens.
It provides an extensive source of scientific data for plant systematics research
and documentation, analyses of changes in distribution patterns due to climate
and land use practices, and also functions as a reference base for the Flora
of Australia project.
The herbarium houses vouchers for the Gardens, holds historical collections
of heritage value and provides information and identification services. Specialist
collections of international importance include:
- the worlds most comprehensive collection of eucalypts;
- an extensive collection of the flora of northern Australia and New Guinea
deriving from past CSIRO involvement in this area;
- Australias largest collection of mosses, lichens and liverworts;
- a specialist tropical rainforest collection of 100 000 specimens housed
in Atherton, Queensland; and
- comprehensive collections of Melaleuca and Callistemon; Orchidaceae;
Sapindaceae; Lauraceae; Portulacaceae; and some sections of Poaceae, Rutaceae,
Proteaceae, and Fabaceae.
The collections of the herbarium combine those of the CSIRO and ANBG. Physical
amalgamation of these commenced in 1995 and is substantially complete, although
full curation of the collections may take another eight to ten years to finalise.
Material is incorporated with high levels of accuracy in identification, nomenclature
and data validation. Plant groups under active research and groups of strategic
importance to herbarium clients are given the highest priority in herbarium
The combined collection (see Table 1) is housed at three geographically separate
sites. The cryptogams (mosses, lichens, liverworts, hornworts, fungi, algae
and ferns) and gymnosperms are located on the Gardens site and the angiosperms
(flowering plants) are located on the Canberra (Black Mountain) CSIRO site.
The Atherton site in north Queensland houses mainly rainforest species, with
few specimens originating from the Gardens.
Australian National Herbarium Collection (Canberra) October
Note: A type specimen is the original specimen to which a
scientific name is applied at the time of publication. It is the permanent archival
standard for a scientific name.
Total no of Type Specimens.
1 265 252
The materials used in the preparation of specimens at the CPBR are of archival
quality: they are designed to last for many centuries without physical or chemical
breakdown. The buildings are secure, protected against fire, and have controlled
environments. Specimens brought into the buildings are subject to quarantine
and decontamination procedures. Pest management procedures such as fumigation
and insect and fungal attack monitoring are conducted as required.
The Integrated Botanical Information System database links all the accession
components and makes this information available for research and management
purposes (refer also to Section 4.6). This data contributes to the national
knowledge base through the Australian Virtual Herbarium, a collaborative on-line
data resource for research and environmental decision making.
- The Australian National Herbarium will continue to maintain and develop
its broad representation of Australian and related plants, both taxonomically
- The collections will concentrate on all the major plant groups except algae
and micro-fungi, with the taxonomic focus of the collection being vascular
plants, the major groups of non-vascular plants and macro-fungi.
- The collections will be maintained to high archival standards, in secure
environment controlled buildings, and curated to contemporary taxonomic standards.
- Basic data from the collections and other resources of the Australian National
Herbarium will be made freely available through Australias Virtual Herbarium.
- Options will be pursued for increasing the space and improving the housing
of the collections, particularly through greater integration with the CPBR.
- The Australian National Herbarium will continue to maintain high curatorial
standards for the specimens in its care. The specimens will be stored and
handled according to modern standards of herbarium curatorial practice.
- The identity of specimens will be kept as current as possible, according
to the latest accepted taxonomic revisions. The associated collections of
spirit material, wood samples, floral dissections and other collection components
will continue to be maintained to the same standards as the main collection.
- An active field collection program will continue to collect taxa under-represented
in the collection, taxa of research interest, and taxa from areas that are
poorly known botanically. Collecting permits will be obtained from the authorities
concerned and reports on collecting activities will be provided to those authorities.
- Herbarium data will be managed in accordance with national and international
standards to facilitate its contribution to the Australian Virtual Herbarium.
- The Australian National Herbarium will continue to be involved in an active
specimen loans and exchange program with other recognised herbaria throughout
Australia and internationally. Specimen acquisition will also occur through
collection by staff members and through donations and exchanges. The database
will be maintained and populated with the data associated with the Australian
National Herbarium holdings, their location and their status. Additional resources
will be sought to accelerate databasing in association with the establishment
of the Australian Virtual Herbarium.
- The CPBR will provide botanical identification services to the Gardens.
- The Australian National Herbarium will provide a plant enquiry and identification
service. Charges as detailed in Appendix 6 will apply to this service for
professional or commercial individuals or organisations, unless there is a
demonstrable mutual benefit involved. These charges will be reviewed periodically.
- The Australian National Herbarium will house and maintain voucher specimens
of plants in the Gardens living collections, plants photographed for
the Photograph Collection (where applicable) and other botanical research
and survey projects. These specimens will be curated to the highest archival
standard and reliably identified according to the most recent and reliable
- The Australian National Herbarium will lend its specimens to other recognised
herbaria for taxonomic and systematic research in line with the access to
genetic resources policy outlined in Section 3.3. In return, it will borrow
specimens from other institutions to facilitate its own research and will
follow the agreed loan conventions of herbaria.
- Duplicate specimens will be deposited in herbaria which are located in the
State or country of origin, herbaria which are actively working on or with
interests in the taxa, herbaria with a regional interest in the collecting
site, and selected major overseas herbaria.
- A Disaster Management and Recovery Plan will be completed and implemented.
- There will be integration of specimen and information processing activities
which will include documenting collections management procedures. Staff will
be trained in these procedures.
- Residual data capture for the Australian Plant Name Index will continue
and there will be significant progress with synonymy including the integration
with, and contributions to, the International Plant Name Index.
- Increased efficiency will be achieved on electronic data capture using portable
computers and database technology during fieldwork.
- The Director will pursue tax deductibility for donation of botanical specimens.
4.3 Biogeographic and Evolutionary Research
Aim: To contribute, through the CPBR, to a greater understanding of Australian
plants and their biogeographic and evolutionary origins.
One of the major objectives of the CPBR is to contribute to understanding of
the relationships and origins of continental and offshore Australian plants.
This is reflected in the composition of the collections and in the research
priorities. In addition to a focus on Australian taxa, the Australian National
Herbarium aims to achieve a good representation of plants from surrounding countries
and from continents that were previously part of the larger Gondwana land mass.
Specimens from more distant countries are also included in the collections if
they are closely related to the Australian taxa. The Herbarium also includes
specimens from a wide range of exotic species growing in Australia.
The needs of botanical research programs and the regional themes of the Gardens
living collections have directed priorities for field collecting of vascular
plants to a large extent. Additional collecting trips for vascular plants have
been undertaken specifically to complete gaps in the Herbarium collection. Collection
of non-vascular plants has been more wide ranging because these plants do not
feature prominently in the living collections.
- Maintain the geographic focus of CPBR collections and research activity
upon continental Australia and Australian territories.
- Areas of known or suspected botanical significance or with high numbers
of endemic or rare and endangered taxa will continue to be of high research
and collecting priority.
- The CPBR will continue to collect, manage and study plant specimens from
all regions of Australia.
- Fieldwork will concentrate on areas known to be under-surveyed botanically
or on areas with a problematic flora. Intensive fieldwork will also be undertaken
at known and expected localities for rare or threatened plant taxa.
- Field trips will be coordinated between the CPBR and Gardens.
- Collections and research activity will extend to the southwest Pacific,
southeast Asia and the Gondwanan land masses to the extent necessary to elucidate
the origins and relationships of Australian plants (see also Section 3.1).
4.4 Plant Systematics Research
Aim: To contribute, through the CPBR, to a greater understanding and knowledge
about the systematics, evolution, taxonomy, distribution and conservation biology
of major groups of Australian native plants and their relatives.
The main input by the Gardens to research at the CPBR is through the expansion
of knowledge on plant systematics. Advances in technology have made new areas,
such as molecular biology, increasingly important in plant systematics. To take
advantage of these tools, staff undertake collaborative projects with other
Major systematic projects carried out by staff in the CPBR involve systematic
and phylogenetic studies in Orchidaceae, Myrtaceae, (particularly Eucalyptus,
Melaleuca, Syzygium and Leptospermum), Caryophyllales (Amaranthaceae,
Caryophyllaceae, Portulacaceae), Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Malvaceae, Lauraceae,
Araliaceae, Proteaceae (especially Grevillea), Zamiaceae, Pteridophytes,
Bryophytes, and lichens.
Wherever possible, the taxonomic research effort of the CPBR is compatible
with the long-term requirements of the Australian Biological Resources Studys
Flora of Australia project, a multi-volume series documenting all Australian
The CPBR is also involved in the development of interactive computer-based
identification tools such as EUCLID and Australian Tropical Rain Forest Plants.
- The Gardens input into research and collections foci of the CPBR will
continue to be the morphology, taxonomy, systematics, evolutionary biology
and conservation of the Australian and related floras.
- In the immediate future the major focus of taxonomic and systematic research
at CPBR will be the Orchidaceae, Myrtaceae, Asteraceae and Fabaceae.
- Ancillary research programs will examine the taxonomy and systematics of
Grevillea, Astrotricha, Leptospermum, selected tropical
plant families, and some families within the mosses, liverworts and lichens
and the objectives of the Flora of Australia project.
- Gardens staff at the CPBR will continue to study the morphology of living
and preserved plant specimens to increase understanding of their taxonomy
and systematics, making use of the Australian National Herbarium, the laboratories,
the living collections and field studies. Biochemical studies, anatomical
studies, and plant biology and breeding studies will augment this work.
- The systematic research programs of the CPBR will be applied to elucidate
the classification, origin and phylogeny of the families Orchidaceae, Myrtaceae,
Asteraceae and the legumes, the genera Grevillea, Astrotricha,
and Leptospermum, and some cryptogam groups.
- Staff will prepare scientific and popular accounts of their investigations;
a major focus of publication and the research effort will continue to be the
priorities of the Flora of Australia project. Major contributions to
the Flora of Australia on Orchidaceae will be made.
- Pending the securing of external funding, production of multimedia interactive
keys to important and complex plant groups will be completed. They will focus
on family keys, Orchidaceae, Grevillea, Eucalyptus, and Fabaceae.
- Consideration will be given to expanding the cryptogam research program
to cover new areas of taxonomic expertise.
4.5 Visiting Scientists, Volunteers and Intern Programs
Aim: To contribute to a greater understanding of Australian plants by encouraging
the study of, and contribution to, the botanical collections by bona fide individuals.
Visiting Scientists and Scientific Associates
The Gardens and the CPBR encourage use of the collections and facilities by
staff from other organisations and by bona fide individuals who are studying
Australias plants. The quality of the collections is enhanced through
study and annotation by active and qualified researchers.
Researchers who are staff from other organisations, and who are formally acknowledged
by the Gardens and CPBR as Visiting Scientists, are accorded specific access
The Gardens and CPBR also maintain a Scientific Associate program. These people
may be either enthusiastic amateurs or professional botanists who spend much
of their time in the field searching for particular taxa of interest. They also
include retired staff or other professionals who spend time at the Gardens or
CPBR working on various projects.
Herbarium Volunteer Program
Herbarium Volunteers play an important part in the working life of the Australian
National Herbarium, allowing trained staff more time for curatorial activities.
Volunteers are selected from members of the public eager to assist with the
preparation of the collections and they are provided with training in specimen
mounting techniques. Herbarium staff provide supervision, guidance and training.
Volunteers work at both the Gardens and CSIRO sites. Volunteers mount about
10 000 specimens each year.
Student Botanical Intern program
The collections of the Australian National Herbarium and the large body of
professional and technical expertise held by the staff of the Gardens and CPBR
provide a useful training environment for tertiary students of botany. With
this in mind, the CPBR offers a Student Botanical Internship Program with its
major focus on the Australian National Herbarium. The Program provides some
formal instruction and an intensive period of work experience in a herbarium
and research environment. The Program operates during January and February of
each year and has the support of the universities, many of which recognise the
program for credit points for their students.
Canberra Institute of Technology students and work-experience students are
offered field placements in the Gardens living collection and the nursery.
The Gardens also offers horticulture apprentices work experience.
Research in Commonwealth Reserves (including the ANBG) that involves actions
affecting native species and or is carried on for commercial purposes is prohibited
by EPBC Act unless carried on in accordance with a management plan (s.354(1)(a)
and (f)). Scientific research generally in Commonwealth Reserves is prohibited
by the EPBC Regulations (r.12.10) unless carried on in accordance with a management
plan or a permit issued by the Director of National Parks, or if certain other
exceptions apply (regulation 12.06). Access to biological resources for research
purposes may also be subject to regulations made under s.301 of the Act.
- The Gardens and CPBR will maintain a Visiting Scientist and Scientific Associate
program in which accredited individuals are given access to the collections
and facilities to study and to collect plants for the living and herbarium
- The Australian National Herbarium will continue to maintain an active Herbarium
Volunteers Program, providing suitable volunteers with defined access to the
collections and facilities.
- Volunteers will be provided with a safe and ergonomically sound work environment
and they will be covered by the appropriate workers compensation insurance.
- The CPBR will continue to recruit suitably qualified and enthusiastic second
and third year tertiary students to the Student Botanical Intern Program.
- Visiting Scientists, Scientific Associates who spend time in the CPBR, ex-staff,
or other professionals, may, at the discretion of the CPBR management, be
provided with access to facilities to allow them to carry out their research.
- Scientific Associates will be trained in the techniques of botanical collecting
and instructed in the obligations imposed by permits for plant collecting.
Where this is acceptable to the permit-issuing bodies, associate collectors
will be provided with institutional collecting permits.
- Volunteers with appropriate technical abilities will be actively recruited
and provided with a range of tasks such as mounting or packaging specimens
and assisting in the processing of loans and exchanges.
- Staff of the CPBR will provide participants in the Student Botanical Internship
Program with formal instruction and supervision on the activities and tasks
of the Herbarium. Students will receive formal certification of their participation
in the scheme.
- Where necessary and considered by the Director of National Parks to be appropriate
in accordance with this Plan, permits may be issued under the EPBC Regulations
to carry out scientific research, including research that involves taking
- Research that involves access to biological resources will also be managed
in accordance with the Management Actions set out in Section 3.3 of this Plan.
4.6 Database Management
a) To manage and enhance an accurate and responsive integrated database
of botanical information and to provide information to the community, researchers
b) To facilitate and contribute to the establishment of Australias
Virtual Herbarium (AVH) as a community resource for research and environmental
The computer-based Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS) is a relational
database that forms the link between the Herbarium collections, the living collections,
the photographic collection, and the bibliographic material held in the library
Significant databases for which the Gardens and the CPBR have responsibility,
brought together or integrated within IBIS, include the:
- Australian National Herbarium Specific Information Register;
- Gardens Living Collections database;
- Gardens Photograph Collection;
- Australian Plant Name Index;
- Census of Australian Vascular Plants; and
- Australian Weeds database.
The CPBR takes an active role in developing national and international standards
for botanical data exchange through its involvement in national projects such
as the Herbarium Information Systems Committee, Herbarium Information Standards
and Protocols for the Interchange of Data. The CPBR also participates in international
projects such as the Taxonomic Databases Working Group of the International
Union of Biological Sciences, the International Organisation for Plant Information
World Vascular Plant Checklist project, and the International Plant Names Project.
The CPBR is a prime contributor to the establishment of Australias Virtual
Herbarium, a project which will link the botanical databases of Australias
herbaria and facilitate access to, and use of, the data in them. A major component
of the establishment of the virtual herbarium is the input of data not held
in electronic form and the implementation of data exchange protocols currently
in development. The AVH will serve as a community resource of reliable botanical
information for botanists, land managers and the general public.
- Provision of appropriate access to plant biodiversity data for use by the
community, researchers and government will be a priority through the Gardens
and CPBR web servers and the Australian Virtual Herbarium.
- The Gardens and CPBR will jointly be responsible for, or for contributing
to, the coordination, maintenance and updating of important national botanic
databases developed by the Gardens, other relevant programs of Environment
Australia, and CSIRO.
- The CPBR will take an active role in the development of national and international
standards for botanical data exchange. The CPBR will employ best practice
in design and implementation of these standards and use them in projects such
as Australiaa Virtual Herbarium.
- Complete the database which captures the herbarium collection and, through
the CPBR, progressively computerise and integrate herbarium records into a
unified database management system. This data will contribute Australias
- The botanical databases of the Gardens will be amalgamated with those of
CSIRO Plant Industry and dynamic links will be maintained between the names
on the herbarium specimens and names applied to living plants in the Gardens
and photos of plants in the Photograph Collection.
- Contemporary standards of design and content such as Herbarium Information
Standards and Protocols for the Interchange of Data will be employed in all
database applications and the Gardens and CPBR will promote best-practice
in the management of herbarium data as part of their contribution to Australias
- The combined Australian Plant Name Index and Census of Australian Vascular
Plants data sets will be redesigned to link with other data sets, including
the Herbarium, living collections and photograph collections. This combined
data set will be the primary plant name authority file for all CPBR and Gardens
database applications and will be a foundation data-set for Australias
Virtual Herbarium. A user-friendly interface will be developed and incorporated.
- Selected images of botanical items and material relevant to the management
of the collection will be stored on the IBIS database and made accessible
on the CPBR network for use in projects such as Australias Virtual Herbarium.
- The CPBR will develop basic expertise in spatial information systems and
ensure that its applications and data adhere to contemporary spatial data
- An on-line geographic information system will be provided on the CPBR network
and website, both for management of the Gardens and CPBR, and for publication
of Gardens and CPBR information.
- There will be timely entry of new taxonomic and nomenclatural information
into the Australian Plant Name Index.
- There will be timely entry of herbarium specimen records following new accessions
from exchange and collection. Strategic groups of plants will be entered,
and the legacy of other collections not yet stored in the database will be
addressed as part of the contribution to Australias Virtual Herbarium.
- High level input will be provided to national and international fora on
the development of international standards for botanical data exchange to
reflect the needs of the botanical community.
- Support will be given to integrating the Australian Plant Names Index with
the International Plant Names Index, in collaboration with the Royal Botanic
Gardens, Kew, and the Harvard University Herbaria.
4.7 Networking and the World Wide Web
Aim: To maintain an efficient network of computing facilities for the Gardens
and CPBR and to provide general access to relevant botanical data, information
and appropriate information-processing tools.
The Gardens and CPBR employ state-of-the-art computing hardware to provide
an efficient internal CPBR network to take advantage of World Wide Web (Web)
facilities and to connect to other organisations as needed. Specialised hardware,
such as scanners and high quality printers for herbarium labels, is shared through
the network. The CPBR network also handles backup and archiving of file systems.
The Gardens and CPBR Web servers provide access to textual and graphic information
about the Gardens and the CPBR and information from CPBR databases. The Web
also provides connection to information produced by other botanical and environmental
institutions and links have been made to these resources as they have been published
on the Web. The Web is the primary vehicle for access to projects such as Australias
- The CPBR will employ contemporary information management technology to provide
efficient tools for the management and dissemination of botanical information.
- Access to the Web for the delivery and retrieval of data and information
will be a cornerstone of the information processing infrastructure of the
CPBR and the Gardens.
- Connection to external organisations will be maintained so users have access
to remote network services and facilities.
- Information in the form of documents and access to the database will be
published on the CPBR network and made available for scientific research and
- Appropriate security measures will continue to be taken to prevent unauthorised
access and to minimise malicious or unintentional damage to the CPBR network
and databases. The back-up strategy will ensure that data are recoverable
in the event of a catastrophic system failure.
- An upgrade and implementation program will be undertaken to ensure access
to the latest versions of licensed software and that such software is properly
installed and supported.
- Hardware will be upgraded in a timely manner to ensure that the Gardens
and the CPBR are not constrained by obsolete technology. In all cases, Government
Open Systems Interconnect Profile (GOSIP) and industry standards will be followed.
- The Gardens and CPBR Web site will be maintained in accordance with the
Commonwealth Government Online Strategy.
- Staff training and instruction in the use of new applications and equipment
will be provided when applications and equipment are installed, consistent
with and where possible within the framework of Environment Australias
information technology training programs. Training will take the form of computer-aided
instruction packages, formal training and on-the-job instruction and experience.
Self-instruction will be encouraged.
15 December, 2004
, webmaster, ANBG (email@example.com)