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Kings Park and Botanic Garden Welcomes International Botanic Garden Conservation Congress

Volume 2 Number 5 - August 1995

Stephen D Hopper

Western Australia's State Botanic Garden and central urban park celebrates its centenary in 1995. The agency has a program of centenary activities in place, culminating in the 4th International Botanic Gardens Conservation Congress (25-29 September) and the Centenary Wildflower Festival (27 September-1 October).

Staff of the agency are delighted that Kings Park and Botanic Garden was chosen as host institution for the coming BGCI International Congress. A warm Western Australian welcome awaits all delegates. I'm sure our rich endemic flora will be a source of delight and interest to all.

This article provides a brief introduction to Kings Park and Botanic Garden and its services.

With expansive vistas over the Swan River and Perth's city centre, its much-used parklands, and the opportunities to see wildflowers and birdlife so close to the Central Business District, Kings Park and Botanic Garden is Western Australia's most heavily visited tourist attraction. Over two million adults a year, as well as countless children, visit the Park and Botanical Garden. Yet the Park is so big (400 ha.) that it is easy to find quiet spots and bushland haunts where the city's proximity is not apparent. Our visitors can participate on one of several walks run by the enthusiastic volunteer Kings Park Guides and learn a little history or botany along the way.

The foresight of Western Australia's first Surveyor General J.S. Roe and the first Premier, Sir (later Lord) John Forrest have endowed Perth with this unique mixture of bushland, botanic garden and formal parkland. The bushland on the edge of the city is especially noteworthy, as it comprises about two thirds of the Park. Here, banksias, little changed from fossils 50 million years old, overlook a modern bustling city.

Apart from Kings Park's recreational values, it is also the State Shrine, having more than 50 memorials and long avenues of memorial trees honouring citizens and important events in the history of Western Australia.

In recent years, the Park has focussed on research, educational and conservation programs dealing with the rich diversity of wildflowers for which Western Australia is renowned. There are more species of endangered plants among the State's 12,000 than in eastern Australia or in most countries of the world, so Park staff have developed new propagation techniques, including tissue culture and cryostorage (freezing) approaches, to help conserve plants on the brink of extinction.

With growing global concern over the loss of biodiversity, Kings Park and Botanic Garden aims to both celebrate and develop an appreciation of the important relationships between people and plants. Its annual wildflower festival is a major cultural event for Perth. An expanded program of activities involving volunteers and the wider community is planned.

Kings Park and Botanic Garden offers unique and enjoyable opportunities to experience nature first hand within a short walk from the city centre. Few cities in the world have such a reachable mixture of natural heritage and urban living. Having native bushland at the doorstep and so much of Western Australia's cultural heritage and history within its boundaries will ensure that Kings Park and Botanic Garden will increase in importance as the heartland of Perth.

As custodians of one of the world's richest floras, Western Australians recognise that they have a special role in the international conservation arena. Kings Park and Botanic Garden sees integrated conservation activities with the wider community as an important direction for its second century of operation.

The coming BGCI Congress will provide delegates with an opportunity to view Kings Park and Botanic Garden's work in this arena. Also available for examination and discussion will be recently completed infrastructure Framework Plans and a Botanic Garden Master Plan, both aimed at improving service delivery by the agency into the next century.

Stephen D. Hopper
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
West Perth, Western Australia 6005