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Plantbank vital for bio-diversity

Plantbank vital for bio-diversity
January 17, 2012

NSW Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker led a recent ground-breaking ceremony to commence construction of a PlantBank vital for the future of Australian bodiversity.

Located at the nation's largest botanic garden, the $19.8 million scientific facility will incorporate Australia's largest native seedbank.

Minister Parker stated "while banks manage our money and futures, PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan will invest in nature.

"Millions of living seeds will be collected and deposited to preserve Australia's biodiversity and establish a hub for research into the survival needs and life-giving properties of our plants.

"This bank really matters because if a species becomes extinct, no amount of money and no government on Earth can bail it out. When we lose species, we lose threads in the web of life and untold potential for human health and well-being."

Minister Parker said that the ultimate goal is to collect and store seeds or live tissue from all of Australia's 25,000 plant species, adding "up to 200 million living seeds may eventually be stored in its thermally-efficient, refrigerated vault, designed to withstand fire and other threats."

PlantBank will be open to the public and is expected to attract local, national and international visitors and students.

Minister Parker added that "there will be opportunities to interact with scientists and advanced technolology while learning about Australian plants. It will be a place to educate us all and inspire a new generation of scientists. Combined with the marvellous horticultural displays of the Australian Botanic Garden here at Mount Annan, there will be no place like it on Earth."

Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust Executive Director Professor David Mabberley said PlantBank was of global significance for the scientific community, stating "the United Nations Environment Program identifies Australia as one of 12 mega diverse countries and fifth in the world for mega diversity of flora. More than 85% of our plants are unique to the Australian wilderness."

Professor Mabberley said that threats to Australia's mega diversity have increased dramatically over recent decades, in particular from land clearance and degradation, introduction of alien species, pollution, disease and climate change.

"In New South Wales, 10% of our plant species are now at risk of extinction. This is a serious matter. Human life depends on plants - as does all life on Earth.

"PlantBank will will be a major centre of plant science for NSW, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, where the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust is spear-heading botanical research and conservation training."

James Grose, who headed the PlantBank design team at BVN Architecture, said the building will be a model of sustainability, incorporating energy efficiency, low maintenance construction materials, water recycling and passive design to maximise natural lighting, ventilation and warmth.

The NSW Government has committed $15.5 million of the total $19.8 million construction cost.

Generous contributors and sponsors to date include the Ian Potter Foundation, HSBC Australia, the Friends of the Botanic Gardens, TransGrid and the Royal Botanic Gardens Foundation.

Project management is by Thinc Projects and the construction firm is Hansen Yuncken. 


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