Plant collecting in Kakadu

Tom North, Australian National Botanic Gardens seed bank manager, pressing plant specimens with Kakadu ranger Jenny Hunter

Tom North, Australian National Botanic Gardens seed bank manager, pressing plant specimens with Kakadu ranger Jenny Hunter

This year I headed north to collect plant material from Kakadu National Park – and to share skills with traditional owners, park rangers and local nursery operators on how to collect, handle and store seed.

Covering an area half the size of Switzerland, Kakadu is a place of amazing ecological and biological diversity. It contains more than 2,000 different types of plant species with still more to be described.

The landscapes are home to a range of rare and endemic plants. On this trip, we wanted to collect some of the park’s threatened plant species. We were also looking to collect key species from the Stone Country and species with little biological knowledge attached to them.

We used helicopters, quad bikes and four-wheel drives to get to some pretty inaccessible areas within the park, but we still spent much of the day on foot. We collected seed from 14 species, including two of the targeted threatened species, plus a further six herbarium specimens for identification.

Four traditional owners and two nursery staff were presented with certificates from the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Seed Handling and Plant Identification.

Tom North, Australian National Botanic Gardens

Park ranger Jenny Hunter and traditional owners Stephan Anderson and Jake Baird collecting Hibiscus brennanii

Park ranger Jenny Hunter and traditional owners Stephan Anderson and Jake Baird collecting Hibiscus brennanii

One thought on “Plant collecting in Kakadu

  1. This is a very good initiative. I alerted the seed bank people to the plight of the Graveside Gorge Acacia last year. I presume they collected seeds from that endangered species – I hope so. Having taken steps to insure these plants against extinction – it is time to do something similar for the rare and endangered animals as well. But – through no fault of their own – severe and shortsighted budget cutbacks have undermined Parks Australia’s ability to do the conservation work that is so badly needed. It seems to me that Kakadu is dying a death of a thousand budget cuts. Maybe it is time for Kakadu to start to attract public donations to fund more of this kind of work. I for one – would do all I could to help them with this. Many people would – if there were some form of opportunity to do so.

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