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2017 Australasian Botanic Gardens Volunteer Guides Conference - Informed Guiding: Discovering the mystery and magic of our Gardens

The speakers on Monday, in keeping with the conference theme, will address some of the 'mysteries' of Australia's botanical world. Tuesday is dedicated to communication and guiding issues, with two different perspectives on communication and staff from several of the national cultural institutions sharing insights into guiding issues. On the final day of the conference, four guides, from four very different gardens, will tell us about some of the challenges and joys of guiding in their gardens.


First Keynote speaker:

Dr Judy West, Executive Director, Australian National Botanic Gardens:

‘Safeguarding Australia’s plants’

With more than 1200 plant species in Australia recognised as endangered, we need to take action to improve their conservation trajectories.  Ex-situ collections of plant species are insurance policies against extinction in the wild.   In particular, seed banks are valuable storehouses for conservation work, with seeds stored for long term preservation, and also available for essential research and support in recovery actions for threatened species such as for re-introduction of plants to their native habitats.  Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy targets 30 plant species for priority conservation attention and has a goal to “insure all known threatened plants against extinction by 2020”.  On the global scale, Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation states that “at least 75% of threatened plant species should be in ex situ collections, preferably in the country of origin”.  Botanic gardens have the capability to play a significant role in addressing these goals. This presentation will explore conservation activities of the Australian National Botanic Gardens contributing to these targets as well as the national role of the Australian Seed Bank Partnership.

Conference presentation (PDF: 1,275 KB)

Second Keynote Speaker:

Dr Helen Cleugh, Director, Climate Science Centre, CSIRO

‘Climate Change in Australia– an update’

This talk will provide, firstly, an overview of Australia’s long-term climate trends and variability based on the biennial “State of the Climate” delivered by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology in 2016. And secondly, I will describe the research being done by CSIRO’s Climate Science Centre and its collaborators, which finds its way into national and global assessments such as the State of the Climate and IPCC Assessment Reports.

Conference presentation (PDF: 5,327 KB)

Discussion Panel: Climate change in the context of botanic gardens guiding

Panel members: Dr Judy West, Dr Helen Cleugh and also:

  • Dr Richard Stirzaker, a CSIRO scientist who combines gardening with science
  • Lesley Pattinson, convenor of the Friends of Fetherston Gardens

Moderator: Mr Max Bourke AM


Communication Session

First Speaker:

Ms Sabrina Sonntag, Digital Media and Tourism Marketing Manager, Australian National Botanic Gardens

‘Beyond the Garden Gates – extending the visitor experience through digital engagement’

Sabrina will share how the ANBG connects with and engages local, national and international visitors through social media

Conference presentation (PDF: 4,804 KB)

Second Speaker:

Dr Rod Lamberts, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University

‘How much science does a good tour need: a whirlwind of ideas from science communication’

Rod will offer a “tasting menu” from a number of science communication practices, theories and personal experiences on the day, with emphasis on issues relevant to botanic gardens guides.

Conference presentation (PDF: 1,208 KB)

Guiding Issues Session

Staff from six national cultural institutions will share insights into guiding issues, from which botanic gardens guides can draw some useful lessons.


How do you guide in your gardens?

One guide from each of:

  • Australian National Botanic Gardens,
  • Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens,
  • National Arboretum Canberra, and
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

will present various aspects of guiding in their very different gardens.


Ms Helen McHugh, Schools and Informal Learning Team Leader, Australian National Botanic Gardens, will summarise.

Last updated on 6 November 2017

Copyright © Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens 2016

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