Australian Orchid Foundation


Project: 329/2019


Title: Tasmanian Orchid Conservation into the Future Round 2 (2019 – 2022)
Applicant: Dr Nigel Swarts and Dr Magali Wright
Institution: Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens


Round 2 of this will continue the work towards establishing a long-term orchid conservation and research program at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG). This project continues to implement the Tasmanian Threatened Orchid Flora Recovery Plan (TTOFRP) and builds on from previously funded work by the Australian Orchid Foundation, Natural area Consulting, Westlands Nursery and the RTBG. This project is a collaboration between the RTBG, volunteers from community groups including the Friends of the RTBG and Threatened Plants Tasmania.  The project is overseen by Drs. Nigel Swarts and Magali Wright with activities completed on Friday mornings with a team of 10 volunteers on a rotational roster.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • Establish strong collaboration between the DOE, DPIPWE and other involved stakeholders to achieve conservation outcomes for Tasmania’s threatened orchids
  • Implement recovery actions of the soon to be endorsed TTOFRP
  • Undertake mycorrhizal isolations and culture from species identified in the RP and other common species
  • Long-term storage of orchid seed and mycorrhizal fungi prioritising species identified in the RP with a long-term goal of storage of all Tasmania’s terrestrial orchid species’ seed at the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre
  • Undertake symbiotic propagation of orchid species prioritised in the RP for both display (at the RTBG conservatory for education) and reintroduction purposes
  • Use mycorrhizal fungi to undertake research into distribution and rarity as identified in the RP
  • Train and support the existing orchid volunteer program at the RTBG
  • Engage the Tasmanian public in orchid conservation through an active social media presence
  • Long-term benefit will be an improvement in the conservation status of Tasmania’s threatened orchids.

Research Outcomes

This project is working towards establishing a long-term orchid conservation and research program at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG), focused on implementation of the Tasmanian Threatened Orchid Flora Recovery Plan. This Round 2 project builds on work from previously funded by the Australian Orchid Foundation (AOF), Natural Area Consulting, Westland Nurseries and the RTBG. The resulting Tasmanian Orchid Conservation and Research Program (TOCRP) is a collaboration between the Landscape Recovery Foundation and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG).

During Round 2, key program outcomes included:

  1. Ensuring that the Tasmanian orchid flora is represented in the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre’s (TSCC) collections,
  2. Educating the community about the importance of the Tasmanian orchid flora and its conservation, and
  3. Developing an orchid translocation program with goals to downlist species most at risk of extinction.
  • Collection of seed and/or mycorrhizal fungi from 16 EPBCA listed Tasmanian orchid species for storage in the TSCC.
  • The first successful symbiotic propagation of 7 EPBCA listed species: Pterostylis rubenachii, P. wapstrarum, P. pratensis, Paraprasophyllum tunbridgense, P. crebriflorum, P. limnetes and pulchellum.
  • Preliminary extension surveys and translocation site assessments for a suite of seven threatened orchids from the Tasmanian Midlands.
  • Development of an ethical orchid photography communication campaign including provision of alternative photographic opportunities utilising plants from the living collection at the RTBG.

Funding from the AOF allowed the TOCRP to leverage considerable additional funding and in-kind support from the Australian Government, the Australian Seed Bank Partnership, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, the Tasmanian State government, land managers, environmental consultants and community volunteers.