The difficulty of maintaining collections of plants
over extended periods, involving regular maintenance and repropagation,
is apparent to any curator of living collections. The use of
a maintenance scheduling program provides one approach to prioritising
the maintenance of rare and threatened plants in ex situ
A computerised maintenance scheduling program is
being trialled at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne to assist
in maintenance of the Gardens, and in the curation of collections
of rare and threatened plants. The program allows real-time monitoring
of assets, including plants, in the nursery and in the Gardens.
The program also assists in compiling a history of propagation
and curation. The program utilised at the Royal Botanic Gardens,
Melbourne is Pressgo, produced locally by Pressgo Management
The objectives for maintenance scheduling at the
Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne are to assist maintenance and
management of the Gardens, and the curation of ex situ
collections of rare and threatened plants. The wider objectives
for maintenance scheduling are:
The experience of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
in maintenance scheduling will be discussed and the results evaluated,
with special reference to the curation of ex situ collections
of rare and threatened species.
A computerised maintenance scheduling program is being trialled at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne to assist in maintenance of the Gardens, and in the curation of collections of rare and threatened plants. The program allows real-time monitoring of assets, including plants, in the nursery and in the Gardens. The program also assists in compiling a history of propagation and curation. The program utilised at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne is Pressgo, produced locally by Pressgo Management Pty Ltd.
The objectives for maintenance scheduling at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne are to assist maintenance and management of the Gardens, and the curation of ex situ collections of rare and threatened plants. The wider objectives for maintenance scheduling are:
The experience of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne in maintenance scheduling will be discussed and the results evaluated, with special reference to the curation of ex situ collections of rare and threatened species.
Introduction to the Royal Botanic Gardens,
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne (RBGM) was founded
in 1846. Of the early directors, the achievements of Baron Ferdinand
von Mueller and William Guilfoyle are most closely identified
with development of the Gardens (Lewis et al. 1992).
Baron Ferdinand von Mueller established the first
major herbarium in Australia on his appointment as Government
Botanist for Victoria in 1853. Through exploration throughout
Australia, and an astonishing record of publications and correspondence,
Mueller established himself as a pioneer of Australian botany.
In 1857 Mueller was appointed as Director of the Gardens and
established significant roles for the Gardens in the domestication
of the native Australian flora, and the acclimatization of valuable
exotic species (Mueller 1872).
William Guilfoyle followed Mueller as Director of
the Gardens in 1873, and was responsible for the Picturesque Landscape
Garden developed with a sub-tropical planting style, now renowned
as the foremost landscape garden in Australia. Guilfoyle also
published widely on the amenity values of the Australian flora.
Today the RBGM manages the Botanic Gardens (38 ha) and the Cranbourne Botanic Garden (352 ha), an annexe about 50 km south-east of Melbourne, as well as the historic gardens of Government House (11 ha).
Introduction to conservation policies
A formal ex situ conservation policy at the RBGM dates from David Churchill's directorship (Churchill 1973). The integration of all State Government departments responsible for public land management, including the Royal Botanic Gardens, into the Department of Conservation, Forests & Lands (now the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources), and the subsequent development of the Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act (1988) resulted in a clearer role for the RBGM in integrated species-conservation programs.
Legislative & policy framework
The State Governments of Australia are responsible
for land management, and accordingly take a lead role in habitat
management and species conservation. Two key Acts proclaimed
by the Parliament of the State of Victoria determine the RBGM's
The Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act was proclaimed
in September 1988, and provides a landmark in conservation legislation.
The Act's objectives are to guarantee that all taxa of Victoria's
flora and fauna can survive, flourish and retain their potential
for evolutionary development in the wild, to conserve Victoria's
communities of flora and fauna and to manage potentially threatening
processes. The Act has far-reaching powers, and is binding on
Whilst the Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act is the
principal Act for conservation management, the RBGM is established
under the Royal Botanic Gardens Act which was proclaimed in July
1992. The functions of the Board of the RBGM include a responsibility
to conserve threatened plants and increase public awareness of
the threat to them.
Accordingly, the RBGM has an ex situ conservation policy, and programs are determined through consultation with a Working Group including representatives from government, universities and community groups.
Ex situ conservation programs
at the RBGM fall into three categories. Firstly, programs resulting
from Action Statements prepared under the Flora & Fauna Guarantee
Act. These Action Statements are the State equivalent of the
Federal Government's Species Recovery Plans. Secondly, programs
responding to requests including those initiated by the community
or the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources through
regionally- based Flora & Fauna Guarantee Officers. Thirdly,
as a result of the RBGM's research programs.
At present work is being undertaken on a number of Victorian rare and threatened plants with the RBGM's research emphasis focussing on Caladenia (Orchidaceae) species and Chenopodiaceae.
The maintenance of collections of rare and threatened
plants in cultivation is a major undertaking, and survival depends
on the facilities and technical expertise available, and on local
climatic and edaphic factors, as well as on the life form, reproductive
strategy and amenability to propagation of the individual species.
Whilst the aim of an ex situ conservation program is usually
to return species to the wild, the cultivation of endangered
species for extended periods is often critical to an integrated
conservation program. Indeed, in some cases the survival of endangered
species in cultivation is the only insurance (and often assurance)
of a species' survival. In botanic gardens rare and threatened
species commonly receive a distinctive tag and are accorded favoured
treatment - an approach which achieves success directly proportional
to the skills of the curators responsible for the collections.
The weakness of such an ad hoc approach is often apparent as
a result of staff mobility through leave, promotion or reassignment,
resignation or retirement. The loss of endangered species may
be buffered by wider distribution of collections; however the
fundamental problem of maintaining collections over extended periods,
and of capturing information on cultivation and propagation is
being addressed at the RBGM through the use of a maintenance scheduling
Maintenance scheduling provides a system allowing
the co-ordination of tasks and resources through real-time monitoring.
A maintenance scheduling system characterises any
job by location, task, frequency and resources required. As an
example, repropagation or division of rare or threatened species
may be characterised by location of a plant in the nursery or
gardens, the method of repropagation, the expected frequency of
the task and resources such as fog, rooting hormone etc. Traditionally
repropagation programs are in the hands of curators, and often
quite satisfactory results are achieved. The advantages of a
maintenance scheduling system are in providing support for a curator,
and as an archive in the event of a curator moving to another
position. In gardens where curators are hard-pressed (perhaps
in most botanic gardens), the advantage of a maintenance scheduling
system is in allowing priorities to be assessed on the basis of
Maintenance scheduling should be distinguished from
work studies resulting in standard minute values and productivity
bonuses (Wright 1982). The emphasis in botanic gardens is on
quality of maintenance rather than on quantity. The complexity
of the collections argues against a simplistic approach to maintenance
as found in specifications for competitive tendering (British
Standards Institute 1991). Even in Britain where competitive
tendering of contracts for landscape maintenance is now universal
for local authorities, botanic gardens have been exempted.
In summary, the primary objectives of a maintenance
scheduling program in botanic gardens are to:
Maintenance scheduling at the RBGM is being introduced
Stages 1 and 2 have been started.
All jobs are defined by location, task, frequency
and resources. The first step in setting up a maintenance scheduling
system is to define these attributes.
Location is defined using a hierarchical system beginning
dividing the gardens into subdivisions according to supervisor,
lawn, bed and sub-divisions and features (including individual
plants) within beds.
Tasks are classified according to the nature of the
task - see Table 1 for a summary of the major groups of tasks.
Within a group tasks are further sub-divided . For example,
tasks AP:H-GLY-1 and AP:H-GLY-2 refer to the application of glyphosate
at 12 ml per litre and 6 ml per litre respectively, and are attached
to areas, lawns, beds and features within beds.
Table 1. Major groups of scheduled tasks
as utilised at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. Scheduled
tasks are further sub-divided and are attached to areas, lawns,
beds and features within beds.
|Task code||Task description|
|CB:-/GR:||Cut back to ground|
|CE:-||Census (including identifications, maps, labels etc.|
|LN:-||Landscape & drainage|
|NT:-||Notice to staff|
As worksheets are issued through the program on a fortnightly
basis, frequency is based on number of repetitions within a fortnightly
cycle, or in multiples of a fortnight. Problems arise with seasonal
tasks, which are at present are handled by a rather longhand procedure.
The handling of seasonal tasks requires further software development.
Resources are defined in terms of hours of labour and equipment,
and appropriate units of materials.
The challenge in establishing a maintenance scheduling system is in defining jobs. Whilst business and strategy plans are now expected in major botanic gardens, the cost-effectiveness of maintenance is rarely satisfactorily analysed, although commonly accounting for the majority of the budget. Setting goals and assessing outcomes in maintenance is rarely effectively tackled in botanic gardens. Whilst less complex, other areas of amenity and production horticulture, for example turf management, are a long way ahead of botanic gardens in terms of defining maintenance requirements and assessing the achievement of maintenance goals.
The program currently utilised at the RBGM is Pressgo (Pressgo
Pty Ltd 1989). Although written by a horticulturist, Pressgo
is now utilised more widely in systems management outside horticulture.
At the RBGM the program is set up to run on a fortnightly cycle.
At the beginning of a cycle a list of jobs due within the next
fortnight is filtered out by supervisor, and printed out. A sample
format for a filtered listing is illustrated in Figure 1. The
supervisor and, where appropriate, staff review the list of jobs
due and append or delete jobs as required. A final worksheet
listing selected tasks is then printed out. A sample format for
a selected job worksheet is illustrated in Figure 2. The process
of printing a filtered list of jobs due, and of editing the list.
is an essential step in consulting staff and in maintaining the
relevance of the final worksheet.
Path Selected.: RBGMEL. / / / /
T-ID# Parent Type/UserID Description Job Type/User ID/Description 551 F/A/PATHBDGP Area of Path S AP:H:GLY-1 Spray Roundup Border Group 12ml 554 F/A/YUCCAGRP Area of Yucca S PL: Plant New Group Material 555 F/A/YUCCAGRP Area of Yucca S CE:NEWPL Record New Group Planting 556 F/A/YUCCAGRP Area of Yucca S CE:RECENSUS Recensus Bed Group (Check) 557 F/A/YUCCAGRP Area of Yucca S AP:H:GLY-1 Spray Roundup Group 12ml 560 F/A/BLABAMGP Area of Black S PL: Plant New Bamboo Group Material 561 F/A/BLABAMGP Area of Black S CE:NEWPL Record New Bamboo Group Planting 562 F/A/BLABAMGP Area of Black S CE:RECENSUS Recensus Bed Bamboo Group (Check) 563 F/A/BLABAMGP Area of Black S AP:H:GLY-1 Spray Roundup Bamboo Group 12ml 566 F/A/FOUNTGP Area of Fountain S PL: Plant New Group Material 567 F/A/FOUNTGP Area of Fountain S CE:NEWPL Record New Group Planting 568 F/A/FOUNTGP Area of S CE:RECENSUS Recensus Bed Fountain Group (Check) 569 F/A/FOUNTGP Area ofFountain S AP:H:GLY-1 Spray Roundup Group 12ml 5155 F/VINCA Vinca minor S WD: Hand Weed Area 572 F/A/ANTENGP Area of S CE:REC_NSUS Recensus Bed Antenoron Group (Check) 1503. F/A/ANTENGP Area of S MU:CT/COMP Mulch with Antenoron Group Compost 862 F/CHLOROPHYT Chlorophytum sp. S DH:DEADHEAD Dead Head Spent Flowers 715 F/AZALEAS Azaleas S FE:CAME/RHOD Fertilize Camellia 573 F/AZALEAS Azaleas S CT:P:AZALBUG Spray Azalea Lace Bugs 579 F/A/CENTLAGP Area of Central S PR:LATE-WI Prune Late Lake Group Winter 162 F/A/CENTRALP Area of Central S AP:H:GLY-1 Spray Roundup Lawn Path 12ml 973 L/TENNYSON Tennyson Lawn S LN:PITS:CLN Gutter Pits 717 F/AZALEAS Azaleas S FE:.CAME/RHOD Fertilize Camellia
Jobs are then allocated by supervisors, and details
of resources required are edited on completion, including time
taken where appropriate. At the end of the fortnightly cycle,
jobs are fed back to maintain an inventory of resources utilised
for any job or area, and to compile a maintenance history for
further analysis. Any jobs not completed may be rescheduled for
the next fortnight, or for the next scheduled date.
The sophistication of the system provides the opportunity
to incorporate any task on the system. However, careful analysis
of the jobs included is essential in order to maintain a coherent
and manageable database. Problems with maintenance scheduling
at the RBGM relate mainly to the evolution of a poorly structured
database prior to clearly defining jobs, as well as to staff misconceptions
of the system as being the first step in the preparation of a
maintenance contract for competitive tendering. Close consultation
with staff is essential in developing an interactive system.
View a sample job sheet
Alternative maintenance-scheduling programs
Pressgo has been utilised at the RBGM because the program is locally written and supported, and provides most of the features required for the maintenance and management of a botanic garden. As the program has been written by a horticulturist, support has the advantage of horticultural literacy. Other programs are available for maintenance scheduling, although sophistication is quite varied. A distinction should be made between programs which assist contract management and programs which allow real-time monitoring of maintenance. The only other programs utilised in horticulture and assessed by the RBGM are Turfing and Parkman (Greensturf Consultants Australia 1989), and GroundsMAN (Aramis Computing Services & The Groundwork Trust 1989). Other maintenance scheduling programs utilised in other fields are currently being evaluated.
The adoption of a maintenance scheduling system has clear benefits for the curation of collections of rare and threatened species, as well as wider application in the maintenance and management of botanic gardens. The cost-effectiveness of maintenance scheduling in botanic gardens will vary widely according to the applications required; however effective management of comprehensive collections of rare and threatened plants over extended periods may necessitate the adoption of a maintenance scheduling program in many situations.
Preface | Contents List | Congress Report | Workshop Conclusions | List of Authors