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National Banksia project

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A national survey of banksias will be launched on July 10 by

the Federal Minister for Home Affairs and the Environment,

Barry Cohen, and Western Australia's acting Minister for

Fisheries and Wildlife, Ken Mclver.

The survey will rely almost entirely on the assistance of

volunteers throughout Australia to help build up a

computerised atlas of the nation's banksias.

Mr Mclver said it had been decided to base the project in

W A as more than three-quarters of the 72 different species

of banksia grew mainly in the south west corner of the state.

He announced the appointment of botanist Mrs Anne Taylor to

co-ordinate the project. She will work from the W A wildlife

research centre at Wanneroo.

Mrs Taylor said yesterday that there was still much to be

learned about these typically Australian plants. "A

number of banksias are listed as rare and we urgently need

to know where they are growing and in what numbers so that

they can be adequately protected".

She said: "It is not yet known how some species are

pollinated, at what age they start flowering or how they

respond to fire.

"Information gathered on the habitats that different species

prefer will be useful both to horticulturists growing

banksias for the cut flower trade and to gardeners wishing to

introduce these beautiful plants to their gardens".


A computer is being used to sort and analyse the records

and to print distribution maps for all species. Every few

months contributors will receive the latest maps and a newsletter informing them of progress. Similar maps will

eventually be available to the general public.

Funds for the project have been provided by the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) and Western Australia's

Dept of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Mr Cohen said that in a country as large as Australia

volunteers had a valuable role to play in assisting

professional research staff with the collection of

scientific data.

He said a comparable project, the "Atlas of Australian

Birds" organised by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists

Union (RAOU), had been highly successful. About 3 000

volunteers had helped in that project and he was hopeful

that the banksia atlas would attract almost as many.

Mr Cohen said that anyone wishing to participate in the

project did not need to be an expert on banksias. An

interest in the natural environment and a willingness to

learn more about this fascinating group of plants was all

that was needed.

Anyone interested in joining the project could contact

Anne Taylor, W A Wildlife Research Centre, P 0 Box 51

Wanneroo W A 6065 Telephone (09) 405 1555.

Canberra 9 July

No. 75 of 1984