Booderee Botanic Garden: Review of a Living Collection

The Booderee Botanic Garden (BBG) is without a doubt unique. Surrounded by Booderee National Park it is the only Aboriginal owned botanic garden in Australia. With the increasing recognition of the indigenous people and their place in Australia, the BBG is a potential model for the amalgamation of traditional roles of botanic gardens and the desire to better connect non-indigenous people with the aboriginal cultures across Australia. They could potentially be used as introductory centres for specific areas around the country, including national parks.


I was contracted by the Booderee Botanic Gardens to provide comment on and recommendations for the BBG as a 21st century botanic garden and the current Living Collection Policy. The questions considered during the review included:

  • Does the living collection meet the goals of the:
    • Booderee National Park Management Plan
    • Current Living Collection Policy
  • Is the geographical area from which the living collection is sourced, adequate, too small or too large in terms of the botanic garden’s role, its resources and the goals of other botanic gardens?
  • Are collections from outside the agreed area being reduced as intended?
  • Are the Living Collections themes consistent with the vision of the botanic garden?
  • Are the themes of all the beds as listed in the Policy – do any need to be renamed?
  • Are there other themes/subthemes to consider?
  • How effectively is the living collection being contained within the botanic garden? Are there plantings that require removal because of weediness?
  • What is the standard of maintenance? Does it vary within the living collection?
  • Are the plant records being maintained? How often are stocktakes done? Are collections being tagged to assist ID/stocktake and labelled for interpretation? Are there changes needed?
  • How developed is the ex situ conservation collection? How tight is the genetic variation within the taxa? Could the conservation collections be better used?
  • Considering the above is a new Living Collection Policy needed?
  • How well is the collection interpreted? What is recommended to better communicate the stories? Is an interpretation policy needed?

The questions above are relevant to all botanic gardens and such a review could be of the same worth as for the Booderee Botanic Garden.