Report on Bring Back the Banksias workshop at Harcourt, Victoria 19 March 2018.

More than sixty Victorian Banksia lovers came together at the Harcourt ANA Hall in central Victoria to hear the latest update on genetics research on Banksia marginata and to get a better understanding of what this means and what information it gives about the conservation status of this much-loved species. But most importantly of all, what can be done to restore them to the landscape.

The hall was packed to capacity to hear Adam Miller from Deakin University outline his earlier genetics research relating to the Banksia of the Victorian Volcanic Plains as well as the most recent related work on the same species in North Central Victoria. The very successful night was co-ordinated by Bonnie Humphreys from Harcourt Valley Landcare and Connecting Country and highlighted the widespread fascination with the species and concern for its apparent decline and interest in restoration.

Adam’s presentation reinforced the general concern that while the species is still widely scattered, it is only the fragmented remnants of a much more connected landscape that is left. As with the volcanic plains results, his current research for north central Victoria indicates that all the sites tested showed that remnants are generally isolated and at high risk of inbreeding and further decline.

His research and the genetic principles that underlie it provide some key recommendations for the future of the species. Adam outlined the need for the regional groups involved in Banksia restoration to focus on bolstering populations sizes and connectivity across the landscape to reduce inbreeding threats. Adam also highlighted the value of capturing seed from the widely scattered current populations and bringing them together in multiple seed production areas. This approach will help broaden the genetic basis of seed for combating environmental change, assist in overcoming current seed shortages, and reducing pressure of seed supply from dwindling remnants. This will now be the big challenge for the groups to develop the plan and look for funding to put it into action.

This project was supported by the National Landcare Program, Kara Kara Network,North Central CMA, the Wetttenhall Environment Trust, Connecting Country and the efforts of many volunteers. Bonnie’s co-ordinating efforts are also part of a much wider program of Bringing Back the Banksia’s in north east Victoria, southern NSW, northern NSW and South Australia coordinated by the ANPC and funded by the Wettenhall Environment Trust to cover the entire genetic range of Banksia marginata. The research analysis work is being undertaken co-operatively by both Adam Miller and Maurizio Rossetto from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Restore and Renew program.

For those wanting a more detailed insight into this research or a copy of the VVP report you may contact Adam Miller at a.miller@deakin.edu.au  . Read more about the workshop at https://connectingcountry.org.au/saving-the-silver-banksia-presentation/

Martin Driver, ANPC Project Manager


Adam Miller presenting the results of his latest genetic research on Banksia marginata to a full house at Harcourt, Victoria. Photo: Martin Driver