Conservation of major plant communities in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

TitleConservation of major plant communities in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1974
AuthorsSpecht RL, Roe EM, Boughton VH
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany. Supplementary Series.
Volume4
Edition7
PublisherCSIRO Publishing
Place PublishedEast Melbourne
ISBN Number0643000941
KeywordsConservation management, Conservation Management Network, plant communitiies, plant conservation
Abstract

How far are Australia's most important ecosystems (our range of habitats for plants and animals) represented by scientifically adequate samples protected as national parks and reserves? This question was asked by the Terrestrial Conservation Section of the International Biological Programme as part of its world wide investigation. The Australian Academy of Science is concerned with Australia's international relations in science and has accepted responsibility for Australian participation in the International Biological Programme. The Academy also has a continuing interest in the scientific knowledge and research which would lead to conservation of our unique flora and fauna. Consequently, when the Academy established a National Committee for the International Biological Programme, under the Chairmanship of Sir Otto Frankel, F.R.S., F.A.A., it also established a Subcommittee for Section CT, Conservation of Terrestrial Communities. We were fortunate that Professor R. L. Specht, Professor of Botany in the University of Queensland, accepted the position of Chairman of the Subcommittee. Professor Specht, in association with one of Australia's great scientific conservationists, the late Sir John Cleland, published papers on flora conservation in South Australia which surveyed the conservation status of both the major plant communities and the endemic plants in the national parks and nature reserves in which they occurred. Their survey provided a basis for suggesting areas which should be incorporated into new reserves, to prOVide, where necessary, for complete conservation coverage of the plant communities and hence for other biota in the state. Subsequently, Professor Specht, as President of the Victorian National Parks Association, initiated a comparable survey in Victoria, which has since been published (Frankenberg 1971), and later he organized similar activity in Queensland. When the Convener of the CT Section (Mr. E. M. Nicholson) of the International Biological Programme (IBP) visited Australia in 1964, he considered that these projects could form an excellent basis for Australia's contribution to the IBP/CT programme. Since the listing of individual plant species would be impossible on a world or on a national scale, it was agreed that plant "communities" rather than species would form the basis of the IBP compilations, though, whenever possible, animals were to be considered as well. Data from the surveys in different countries were to be collated at an international level at the Monks Wood Experimental Station in England. Professor Specht and his Committee worked on the Australian project with great enthusiasm. The Committee consisted of members from all States, from Papua New Guinea, and members of Commonwealth instrumentalities. All of the work has been done in an honorary capacity by people with other responsibilities. No special funds were available. Such a survey is an immense task in a country of roughly 3 million square miles (7.7 X 106 km2 ), much of which is floristically relatively unexplored. Further, since all States continue to form new parks and reserves, the task of listing the protected flora and fauna needs constant revision. The work on listing the national parks has been carried out largely by Dr. J. G. Mosley of the Australian Conservation Foundation who has been most active in keeping the information up-to-date and in stimulating interest in the important question of tenure and management of existing parks and reserves. This report, which is the culmination of seven years' work, set out to examine the extent to which scientifically adequate samples of all the main types of ecosystems and their variants are protected in national parks and reserves in Australia. The work of the Subcommittee has been extensive and productive and the Academy of Science is grateful to those who took part. It is hoped that this type of work will continue as the result of the Academy's proposals for a biological survey in Australia. Rutherford Robertson (President, Australian Academy of Science)

URLhttp://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/66/issue/5451.htm

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