Damien Eldridge sent me this link to the parlous state of Canberra’s Australian National Botanical Gardens. Jobs are being cut – 30% have disappeared over the past 20 years – and solvency is threatened by mounting water bills ($600,000 annually) and increased electricity charges. The claim is that the gardens are being poorly maintained.
These gardens are a unique Australian institution and the largest collection of native Australian plants – about 1/3 of all species – in the world. There is an enormous range of species covering a wide range of habitat types – rainforest gully plants and dry country plants within a short distance of each other. I am surprised at how few academics from the Australian National University use the gardens as it is within walking distance of the campus.
The article suggests that too much use of the gardens is being made for recreational purposes. I don’t see that. I am a regular visitor to the gardens when I am in Canberra. Its an obviously important place to look at flora (and avifauna!) but also a pleasant place to meet up with friends to have a coffee. I cannot see much conflict between these roles – investing in garden beds to provide paying customers should be one way of cross-subsidising the important conservation and scientific work the gardens provide.
It would be a national tragedy if this unique national asset was damaged or lost for what seems to be a fairly paltry amount of money. (101)