Ideal for volunteers, activists, politicians and lawyers, conservation careers will allow you to ignite your passion for protecting threatened plant species and native flora. Our Certificate of Plant Conservation will give you a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of plant conservation and inspire you to advocate for change.
You will learn about the challenges associated with protection and restoration measures, ex-situ conservation for threatened species, and the application of genetics and ecosystem conservation methods. You will also study community action initiatives and ways to respond to environmental change to conserve plant species and populations.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking conservation careers include:
- Learning about the scope and nature of plant conservation
- Exploring plant diversity and the definition of plant conservation
- Gaining an understanding of the three major reasons to care and how to measure the scale of the problem
- Studying the six main reasons for conservation and the eight principles for conservation success
- Examining how to raise awareness
- Understanding policy, legislation and organisations
- Attaining knowledge of international conventions and legislation and the convention on international trade in endangered species (or cites)
- Gaining insights into the three levels of regulation of trade, the convention on biological diversity (or CBD) and the global strategy for plant conservation (or GSPC)
- Learning about national conventions and legislation, conservation organisations, international and global organisations and governmental organisations
- Exploring regional and national organisations and public-based organisations
- Gaining an understanding of private protected areas and gardens and local organisations
- Studying protection and preventing degradation
- Examining protection from damage, protected areas, heritage values and planning for protected areas
- Learning about land sparing and sharing, weeds, soil degradation and the types of soil degradation
- Exploring the control of erosion, the control methods for salinity, the loss of soil fertility and pollinator management
- Gaining an understanding of the restoration of damaged ecosystems, restoring ecosystems and the priorities for ecological restoration
- Studying recovery rates, restoring biodiversity, restoring function and restoring connectivity
- Examining restoration projects and how to choose a target state for a restoration project
- Understanding the principles and stages of ecological restoration and the four main approaches to restoration
- Examining genetic conservation, genetic diversity and the representation of global plant genetic diversity
- Understanding the assessment of genetic diversity in plants, the need for germ plasm conservation and germplasm storage and conservation
- Attaining knowledge of ex situ conservation, in vitro conservation and the methods involved in in vitro conservation
- Gaining insights into field gene banks and botanical gardens, in situ conservation and natural reserves or genetic reserves
- Learning about on-farm and home garden conservation and recording and recalling evolutionary history
- Exploring ecosystem conservation including pollinators, soils and environments
- Gaining an understanding of selecting areas for conservation, forest conservation and soil conservation
- Studying pollinators, drone conservation and botanical gardens
- Examining wild conservation and 3D modelling
- Understanding community action, the four major groups involved in plant conservation and citizen science and collaboration
- Attaining knowledge of training and community-led conservation
- Gaining insights into the Kasigau Corridor in Kenya, the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia and Esk’s Mount Glen Rock and wildlife
- Learning how to adjust to environmental change in terms of the future of conservation
- Exploring conservation and climate changes and plant responses to climate changes
- Gaining an understanding of migration away from, adaption to, the tolerance of and local extinction due to new and different conditions
- Studying novel threats to plants as a result of climate changes, incoming species, changes in fire regimes and flooding and drought
- Examining natural capital, nature-based solutions, ex-situ conservation of plants and the conservation of plants in the Anthropocene
Insights into Rare Australian Plants
Australia’s flora is globally distinctive, with more than 90 per cent of our 22,000 plus vascular plant species found nowhere else in the world. Australia’s plants were used, managed and celebrated by Australia’s First Nations people for at least 60,000 years, however since European colonisation they have faced a range of threats. Animals, diseases, land clearing, floods, fires and interruptions to ecological processes have taken a heavy toll on many species. If you are looking at plant conservation careers, then you’ll no doubt be interested in discovering some of Australia’s rarest plants.
Released in 2021 by the National Environmental Science Programme – Threatened Species Recovery Hub, the Action Plan for Australia’s Imperilled Plants details over 750 plants listed as endangered or critically endangered, and fifty plants that have the greatest risk of extinction. Some of these include:
- Slender-nerved acacia (Acacia leptoneura). A spiky plant with yellow, balled flowers, this plant was considered extinct for more than 160 years. Today, it has extremely limited distribution as it is confined to a small area to the north east of the town of Dowerin in the wheatbelt region of Western Australia. And of the two known plants remaining, they exist only one kilometre apart! Propagation attempts have been unsuccessful and it is thought that genetic diversity is probably very low.
- Ironstone pixie mop (Petrophile latericola). This plant grows in Western Australia in a soil type that’s been heavily cleared for agriculture, and it is suspected to be susceptible to an introduced root-rot fungus. In 2020, fewer than 200 plants remained, all in poor condition.
- Grampians pincushion-lily (Borya mirabilis). Only around thirty of these plants are known to exist and they all come from a single location — one rocky outcrop in Victoria! This means that the entire population could be destroyed by a single event such as a major bushfire.
- Morrisby’s gum (Eucalyptus morrisbyi). Around 2000 of these were growing in the early 1990s, but by 2016, fewer than fifty remained in Tasmania. Climate change and animal and insect damage threatened those that were left, however, protecting trees with fencing has led to new seedlings.
- Lax leek-orchid (Prasophyllum laxum). Fewer than ten of these remain. Declines are due to ongoing wildfire and drought, and the South Australian species only occurs on private property not managed for conservation. Proposed recovery actions include habitat protection and establishing the orchid and its mycorrhizal fungi in conservation reserves.
- Woods Well Spyridium (Spyridium fontis-woodii). Fewer than 155 of these shrubs remain on a single roadside in South Australia. Research into threats and germination requirements is urgently needed, plus translocation to conservation reserves.
- Dwarf spider-orchid (Caladenia pumila). Once common, this plant wasn’t seen for over 80 years until two individual plants were found in Victoria. Despite intensive management, no natural recruitment has occurred, although propagation attempts have successfully produced seedlings and mature plants from seed.
- Gillingarra grevillea (Grevillea sp. Gillingarra). Only around twenty mature plants remain on a weedy rail reserve in southwestern WA. Half the population was destroyed in 2011 due to railway maintenance and flooding.
- Border Ranges lined fern (Antrophyum austroqueenslandicum). This plant and its habitat are exceedingly rare. It is threatened by climate changes and drought and fewer than fifty plants remain in NSW.
Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC)
Varying reports have been produced in Australia since the early 1970s calling for action on endangered species and promoting a regional network of botanic gardens to concentrate on the flora of their local region. And while many of these reports recognised the role that botanic gardens play in conservation activities, there was a significant number of other people and groups that were overlooked, in particular, “non-professionals”.
In 1987, the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) was contracted by the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS) to conduct a survey of the major botanic gardens in Australia to determine their holdings of rare and threatened Australian plants. The published report included a number of recommendations that recognised the largely uncoordinated approach to ex-situ conservation in Australia.
In 1991, the ANBG acted to co-ordinate the ex-situ conservation of rare and threatened plants by organising a conference, which was titled “Protective Custody? – Ex-Situ Plant Conservation in Australasia”. Conference participants included those from universities, conservation agencies, botanic gardens, zoos, local councils, the forestry industry, horticultural organisations and the mining industry, which reflects the immense interest in the subject throughout the community.
It was generally agreed by conference delegates that there was a need for informal networking so that the diverse range of groups involved could be made aware of the situation. Out of this came a proposal for the establishment of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC). It is a great resource if you are looking at conservation careers.
The aims of the Network include:
- Establishing a multi-site national endangered species collection.
- Locating and bringing together information concerning integrated conservation activities in Australia.
- Assisting in the co-ordination of plant conservation projects to avoid duplication.
- Providing information and advice to ANPC members.
- Promoting plant conservation.
- Organising workshops and training courses.
- Producing a regular
You can find out more about some of the ANPC’s wonderful projects here.
Gain the skills and approaches necessary to create positive outcomes for vulnerable plant species and pursue conservation careers by studying our Certificate of Plant Conservation