These insurance populations can provide some level of hope for maintaining a species existence, particularly when wild populations are unable to reproduce due to impacts such as Myrtle Rust.
In response to the persistent threat of this disease, the Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens (CHABG) and Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand Ltd (BGANZ) conducted a survey in 2022 to determine the status of ex situ Myrtaceae collections across Australia.
Supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, this survey provides insights into the ongoing conservation efforts for Myrtaceae species and the gaps that need addressing.
The survey garnered responses from 26 organisations across Australia, including every state and territory, as well as institutions in New Zealand and the United Kingdom with Australian Myrtaceae accessions.
Key findings of the survey included:
- 73% of organisations actively monitor for Myrtle Rust
- 46% of organisations have reported previous observations of the disease
- 42% of organisations are part of the International Plant Sentinel Network
- 38% of organisations are funded to add additional species to their collections
- 62% of accepted Myrtaceae species in the Australian Plant Census are secured in ex situ collections, with 1,173 accepted species yet to be secured
- 87% of Myrtaceae species listed under the EPBC Act are secured, with 23 listed species yet to be secured
- 92% of priority species in the Myrtle Rust National Action Plan are secured, with 4 priority species yet to be secured.
Despite commendable efforts so far, the survey highlights that a significant proportion of Myrtaceae species remain unsecured.
This is contrasted by the result that only 38% of respondents have funding for future collection work, emphasising the urgent need for additional resources for ex situ plant conservation.
This survey serves as a vital baseline for strategic planning, management, and future research, and will inform policymaking and resource prioritisation for future mitigation efforts.
CHABG and BGANZ express gratitude to the Australian Government, the National Myrtle Rust Working Group, respondent institutions and individuals who contributed to this crucial survey.
BGANZ would like to say a special thank you to the 22 member gardens in Australia and New Zealand who participated in this critical research.