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Conserving native plants

We are passionate about conserving Australian native plants, and we regularly promote awareness and education about flora species and their habitats, especially listed threatened flora.

  • Our Conservation Officer, Dan Clarke, identifies projects and issues where our society can take action and have a positive influence to promote and protect flora species in their natural habitats. 
  • Dan uses his expertise to draft submissions regarding impacts to our native biodiversity from development and other processes. He also encourages and undertakes on-ground projects to assist in protecting endangered flora in the wild, with a recent example being the NSW Saving our Species Program.

About Dan

  • Dan is a practicing botanical consultant with a strong passion for conserving the natural areas in NSW. 
  • Dan is happy to engage with any Australian Plants Society member or member of the public regarding flora conservation issues in NSW. The Conservation Officer can be contacted here.
  • Since 2015, Dan Clarke has coordinated a targeted flora survey by APS members to assist State Government conservation objectives for the threatened plant species Prostanthera densa. Further threatened species survey work, required by the NSW Saving our Species Program, is planned.


Submissions on local biodiversity issues relevant to members are drafted by members with the assistance of the Officer or Committee, or you may choose to bring an environmental issue to their attention and allow them to write the submission for you.

Here is the submission to the recent bushfires for the Royal Commission into National Disasters, prepared by Dan. 

Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangement DC 27Apr2020-1

Native plant distributions - Climate change, bush fires and native plants

The summer of 2019 and 2020 has easily been the worst summer in living memory. 

Drought and horror bushfires,  storms and floods have led to many dead, homes destroyed, countless animals killed, and millions of hectares and their plants incinerated. Soil has been burnt to a considerable depth and in some areas the seed bank may have been destroyed.

We hope recovery will occur but there is uncertainty. Regenerating complex ecosystems will take many years. And even when the landscape does recover, the next round of drought and fires may be worse. 

The connection with climate change is indisputable – the science is settled. The natural world is a precious resource to be treated carefully and respectfully. Society's drivers of growth must become more civilised and balanced.

While each of us must do our bit to mitigate climate change, we can at least take action to monitor, measure and learn through this regeneration process.

Monitor, measure, learn

To assist:

  • We have developed a series of spreadsheets from a project that aims to document the distribution of native plants in eastern Australia, prior to the latest fires. 
  • The data has been assembled over many years from reputable and publicly available sources. 
  • The initial study area lies between Taree, Dubbo and Batemans Bay. It is split into 8 regions which together contain 50 smaller areas. 
  • Further work is now underway on southern NSW to be followed by northern NSW and the rest of the regions of NSW. There are 180 areas in the whole project.

As data which pre-date the recent fires, we hope it will provide a reference point for recovery, now or in the future. We hope it can be used to monitor, measure and learn.

For those wishing to record the recovery process, so it can be further shared, please send such reports to Tony Maxwell who will collate them. 

For any questions about the project or spreadsheets attached, please contact Tony Maxwell,

Tony Maxwell, March 2020

  • 22 Apr 2019 3:26 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

    NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is running a major conservation project which aims to re-establish suitable habitat for seabirds along coastal NSW. The 5 Islands off Port Kembla are a current focus, particularly Big Island.

    Menai Wildflower Group is hosting a talk by Rowena Wallace, a ranger in charge of the project and it is her enthusiasm that is attracting many volunteers and outside funding. Hear her speak at Menai Wildflower Garden meeting on Saturday 11 May at Illawong RFS. 

    See here for event information: 

    Information about Big Island

    • 17.7 ha
    • Habitat and breeding site for the vulnerable sooty oystercatcher
    • Breeding site for wedge-tailed shearwater and short tailed shearwater
    • Breeding site for Little Penguins
    • Former Breeding site of White-faced storm petrels

    This island was farmed for some years and is now totally over run by weeds – particularly kikuyu and Morning Glory. These weeds are problematic for the burrowing seabirds because the tendrils can get wrapped around the birds wings as they try to negotiate their way into or out of their nests hollows. The ensnared birds can face a slow death from dehydration and starvation.

    The successful removal of these weeds from the island is a long-term project that is well underway. Initially herbicide was sprayed from helicopters over large areas. After the waist high weeds died and collapsed smaller areas were hand sprayed and planting commenced with plant species friendly to nesting birds that probably inhabited the island before humans interfered (there are no records of what was there).

    Rowena Morris (PhD) is the ranger in charge of the project and it is her enthusiasm that has attracted many volunteers and outside funding. She has driven the project to the stage that endangered birds such as the White-faced storm petrel that have not nested there in 50 years have been seen back on the island. 

    While progress is promising it is still early days. With a weed infestation of this magnitude plus the logistical problems of island work it is likely to take 10 + years of continuous work to complete. 

    Rowena will be talking at a special Menai Wildflower Groups meeting at 1pm Saturday the 11 May. She will be joined by Chris Lloyd on the importance of this project to seabirds and also Lloyd Hedges on MWG’s involvement.

Polblue, a fragile wilderness, by Andrew Pengelly, Hunter Valley Group

As a way of escaping extreme December heat, as well as to participate in a plant collecting trip for the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, we headed up to Barrington Tops National Park, observing the change in temp from 35C in the valley to 26C an hour later, at an elevation above 1400m. The plan was to camp the night at Polblue camping area, then meet our collecting colleagues there in the morning. 

Polblue has a significant peat bog, surrounded by sub-alpine flora. This area is not only of great ecological significance, it also harbours a number of rare and threatened plants, including two species of mountain pepper, Tasmannia purpurescens and T. glaucifolia (fragrant pepperbush)...more

Planting Australian natives: are we bringing the bush to our backyards or our backyards to the bush? By Dr Matt Pye

Gardens are an important part of our existence in urban environments. They provide relief from the concrete and bricks that create the artificial environment that most Australians now inhabit – the urban landscape. Our gardens provide shelter and shade, a potential kaleidoscope of colour and, in many backyards, a small localised food source in the form of vegetable gardens. In cities, gardens and street trees also provide additional cooling mechanisms to the heat sinks of concrete structures.

Despite their ubiquitous presence, Australian backyard gardens have evolved over time and are far from static entities....more 

Wombat Care, Bundanoon by Fran Mullard

In November last year, the Southern Highlands APS group enjoyed an informative and passionately delivered presentation by John Creighton, AKA Wombat Man, who talked to them about the important work carried out by volunteer carers at Wombat Care Bundanoon. 

Wombat Care Bundanoon is an independent, self-funded volunteer group of dedicated carers focused on wildlife in general and wombats in particular. They are licensed to treat mange,

They are also active in area schools, mainly Bundanoon Primary School, in providing education and awareness about wombats and local wildlife issues. 

The wombats in the local area are from the family Vombatus ursinus, from the latin “ursus”, meaning “bear”. They are known as the Common Wombat or Bare-nosed Wombat...more

Keeping Tuggerah Lakes pristine, by Nick Carson, story Elsie Bartlett

Central Coast Group's speaker in May was Nick Carson, an Environmental Education Officer at Central Coast Council where he educates the community about the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary. Nick spoke passionately about the importance of the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary and catchment area.Features of the estuary

The Tuggerah Lakes Estuary system is a system of three inter-connected coastal lagoons, mostly separated from the sea. These lagoons are called Lake Munmorah, Budgewoi Lake and Tuggerah Lake and cover an area of approximately 80 square kilometres. Although they are called lakes, a lagoon differs from a lake in that it’s a shallow body of water close to the sea with a small inlet permitting tidal currents in and out.

Estuaries are formed when bodies of water, including rivers, lagoons and creeks meet the sea causing fresh and salt water to mix....more

More stories

Threat to Mount Canbobolas' rare flora, Central West, by Cilla Kinross

Submission to prevent the spread of Myrtle Rust, Maria Hitchcock OAM

Preventing land clearing in WA, by Mary Slattery, Secretary of ANPSA

P.O. Box 263
Cremorne  Junction NSW 2090

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