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Just as critical, not as visible – the challenge of saving native plants from extinction

March 17, 2016 Destination Global No Comments Print Print Email Email

People risk life and limb to rescue a cute animal but would you spend three grueling days walking to protect an endangered plant? That’s exactly what a passionate group of scientists, horticulturists and volunteers are about to undertake with the goal of saving 11 Australian plant species from extinction.

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“The urgent need is clear, with more than half of Australian native plants facing extinction – 611 native species listed as ‘threatened’ in NSW alone,” said Dr Brett Summerell, Director Science and Conservation, Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands.

“It is unfortunate that we humans don’t seem to have the same natural affinity with plants as we do with animals at risk. While plants may not seem as cute and cuddly as a hairy-nosed wombat, they are exquisite and striking and just as important to the future of our ecosystems,” he said.

“We have a year round program of scientists heading out into the field to search for threatened plant specimens – some of which exist in very remote locations. When located, the seeds are collected, sorted and dried, before being stored in the Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan.”

“We currently have half of the threatened species in NSW stored at PlantBank – but as they say, that’s the easy half. Finding endangered species becomes more difficult over time as the more threatened the species, the less of them there are to find.”

This is why maintaining funding for seed collection is so crucial. To help support the cause, three teams consisting of staff from the three Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands will each trek 100 kilometre to raise $44,000. The money will directly fund the seed collection and storage of these 11 native species at the Australian PlantBank, Mount Annan.

Save a Species Walk

On Friday 15 April 2016, the teams will set off on three different journeys across NSW, finishing three days later at the 200 Birthday Living Sculpture on Sunday 17 April at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. This mammoth undertaking is all to raise awareness and funds for 11 threatened Australian plant species. A fundraising website has been established to sponsor the teams: https://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/saveaspecies2016

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