Ballarat Botanical Gardens will soon play a bigger role in keeping threatened Australian flora safe for future generations.
The gardens are joining the Care for The Rare project, a state-wide initiative to help safeguard threatened flora species.
The committee from the Botanic Gardens of Australia and New Zealand (BGANZ) visited Ballarat gardens yesterday (Wednesday March 20) to assess which rare species would be best suited to the area.
With climate change and loss of vegetation putting more species at risk, more types of flora need protection.
Ballarat Gardens is a magnificent heritage landscape, and whatever we do needs to be completely sympathetic. It's about putting the right plant in the right place.John Arnott, committee member Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand
There are around 3,600 plant species in Victoria, with around a third registered as threatened.
John Arnott is the manager of horticulture at Cranbourne Botanic Gardens and one of the BGANZ committee members in Ballarat yesterday. "If you think of the broad Ballarat landscape, there are pockets of indigenous vegetation sitting in isolation - and they are supporting some really interesting rare and threatened plant species," he said.
"This program is really about bringing those plants into the botanical gardens, displaying them, and conserving some really important rare and threatened plant species.
"There's practical plant conservation on the ground but it's [also about] the capacity to be able to communicate with Ballarat people about Ballarat plants and about telling those stories and raising awareness about conservation issues more broadly."
The committee yesterday discussed which plants should be conserved - described by one member as a "compelling list" - and where they should be placed.
As well as the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, other venues that could be involved in the project include the Buninyong Botanic Gardens and Victoria Park.
"Ballarat Gardens is a magnificent heritage landscape, and whatever we do needs to be completely sympathetic," Mr Arnott said. "It's about putting the right plant in the right place."
Peter Marquand is the curator at Ballarat Botanical Gardens and excited to be part of the program.
"What's really good about this is that it gives some of the smaller regional botanic gardens an opportunity to be involved in something that may in the past have been a little bit beyond them," he said.
"The selection for the project would be quite specific to us here in Ballarat - it would need to be something that's actually going to grow here.
"It may be something we have locally but it's endangered and it's an opportunity for us to actually have here in the gardens.
"We have made some discoveries even here in Ballarat of plants that are rare and endangered - down at Vic Park and Miners rest wetlands."
"It really just educates us and makes us aware of what's going on in our own environment."
Rare plants that are already at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens include the rare wombat bossiaea, basalt peppercress and stiff groundsel.
The Friends of Ballarat Botanic Gardens has previously identified plant conservation as a key way to position the gardens as one of Australia's top rural botanic gardens.
Six botanic gardens across Victoria were selected for the pilot stage of the project including Ballarat, Sale, Shepparton, Dandenong Ranges, Colac, and Wilson Botanic Park in Berwick.
Once the plants are chosen for Ballarat, they will be propagated at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, then planted in the area in springtime next year.
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