ANPSA reports from Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, November 2020

By Heather Miles

Native Plants Queensland – November 2020, by Bob Bannon, President

Well, the last twelve months have certainly been interesting. Queensland has been fortunate in not having the tougher restrictions placed on them as in some of the other states. That doesn’t mean to say we haven’t been affected though. Our plant major sales and displays through the year were cancelled, along with our State Conference in Cairns (now in 2022). Fortunately, we are in a position financially to be able to cope.

While we haven’t been out and about, we have taken the opportunity to promote ZOOM meetings, with Regional Council meeting using the electronic media, even the AGM, as the lockdown occurred just prior to our AGM. Several of our regional branches have also adopted ZOOM, while others are using email to communicate, and, as restrictions ease, are again meeting “face to face”.

Meanwhile, in a meeting prior to COVID, with the University of Qld, where scientists are hoping they have discovered a way of reproducing endangered native plants, using Cryopreservation. This technique being developed after success using Avocados. NPQ has pledged $30,000 over the next three years into this research. There are trials being undertaken into the inoculation of plants against Myrtle Rust also.

$10000.00 has also been put forward for the collection and propagation of Eucalyptus kabiana. E. kabiana is small growing koala food tree. Seed will be collected and then propagated by inmates of the Gatton Correctional Centre. Stock is then dispersed to various volunteer groups for planting. There may be an opportunity to promote it as a small koala tree for suburban gardens. Work on this has stalled presently, as permission for collection must be gained from the original landholders, which is proving difficult.

We have also been undertaking an upgrade to our website, utilising Wild Apricot as a platform, following in NSW footsteps. It is still a work in progress.
Due to the COVID restrictions, it became imperative that we use internet banking. Banking with the CBA has made this impossible, so we withdrew our funds and opened accounts at Westpac. This has been a boon for our Treasurer, and apart from some minor glitches early on operates well. We still operate our membership accounts with CBA but will begin migration to Westpac next year.

Our Membership numbers continue to remain stable, with a slight rise in numbers, being around the 800 mark. It will be interesting to see how membership is affected once the website is functional with online payment.

Roll on 2021 and a bit more normality to life. I’ll take this opportunity on behalf of Native Plants Qld members, to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year (COVID free hopefully).

APS Victoria – November 2020, by Chris Clarke, President

Well Victoria takes the cake this year for doing it tough!

Most of our group meetings, plant sales, flower shows and excursions have been cancelled. Several groups meet via Zoom and we plan to have our AGM and CoM via Zoom in November.

The biennial FJC Rogers seminar on Prostanthera and Allied Genera was held as three evenings of Zoom presentations in October with over 100 participants to each evening. Video available here – https://apsvic.org.au/fjc-rogers-seminar-2020/

We successfully launched twin exhibitions at Ringwood and Karwarra Gardens to acknowledge 250 years since Banks and Solanders first collections – with five of the actual original collections on display and 36 others framed as fine prints. These great exhibits were cut short by Covid restrictions but we are making a video of the keynote speakers we couldn’t have live. Our Growing Australia magazine continues to improve with up to 70 pages in colour and terrific articles.

We finished the year ending June 30th 2020 with a small loss of $1,115 and total assets of $198,722. Book sales are down due to Covid – but we needed to double our budget for seeds for members growing in lockdown! We made grants this year of over $10,000 – the framed prints of Banks and Solander collections, expansion of the Melton Botanic Gardens WA Garden and funding growing plants for bushfire victims in East Gippsland.

All our APS Vic executive positions are filled – but one group (Wyndam) folded this year.

Membership decline is a concern but the impact of Covid is muddying the figures. Current financial membership is only 623 of which 105 are lone members. On November 9th last year we had 850 members and 107 lone members. This looks very low as the timing of groups sending in their renewals can vary wildly and of course many groups have not met. In June this year the Vic membership totalled 1165. We are increasing recruiting – there have been 175 new members in the past 12 months but in 2019 there were only 80 new members in the same period.

We have started planning for the National Conference to be held in Melbourne in 2023 – now 2024. We are working on putting our membership and dues payment system online.

Here’s hoping for a much better year in 2021!

 

Australian Plants Society SA Region, November 2020, Jeffrey Reid, President

The year 2020 is a year that will be always remembered, as can be gleaned from the following report. Very little has remained the same, and the future really does look very different.

Administration

Our AGM this year which was to be held in March as per other years had to be delayed because of Covid-19 lockdown, so it eventually was held on the 26th September 2020.
President Jeffrey Reid was re-elected. Treasurer Russell Dahms retired and was replaced by Billy-Jo Brewer. Ali Ben Khan remained as Secretary. Councillor Carolyn Schultz retired and was replaced by Leonore Swanson, a member of our Fleurieu Local Group. This has been noted as a real positive step. Other councilors were re-elected.
Most of the appointed officers retained their roles and we continue to provide a printed copy of our Journal to members.

We do note that since some states have moved to electronic copies they have ceased to circulate them to the editors of other states.

There is a need to look at our structure as we move into the future, particularly in regards to our local groups, but our plans for updating the strategic plan has also been placed on hold for the time being.

While in lockdown, some council meetings were held via Zoom, which worked quite well.

Membership

Our membership remains in the low 300s. We have a small trickle of new members but of course like all other similar groups, are concerned about our aging membership and low recruitment of younger and enthusiastic membership.

Activities

Meetings and all excursions of the region at Unley were all suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19 but have now resumed again in September. All meetings now need to comply with Covid-19 protocols, and members have to be thanked for doing their part in maintaining the strict rules.

Of course our Autumn Plant Sale was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, as were many other events around that same time period, however the Spring Flower Show and Plant Sale was held in mid-September, and was restricted to only a Plant Sale to comply with those covid-19 protocols.

It was quite successful considering all the changes, and we sold almost all of our plants. We of course hope for a similarly successful sale next autumn as well.

Our conservation group (COOTS Conservation of our threatened species) also needed to be suspended for a time, however it has all now resumed with many protocols in place to protect volunteers in the field. Restoration and revegetation work continues at a number of locations within South Australia.

Publicity

Our Publicity Officer, John Fleming continues to regularly update our website and Facebook page which is quite important to keep news up to date. We are aware that the page has many likes which is the ultimate aim.

COOTS also have a Facebook page where conservation news is constantly kept up to date as well.
An email reminder about forthcoming meetings and excursions is sent to Metropolitan members each month as is also the COOTS Group.

Local Groups

Several of our groups in the country have safely conducted some activities during these tough restrictions.

The Northern Yorke Peninsula Group now has a very extensive nursery at Kadina and has been extremely busy propagating and preparing a colorful native garden for the public to view before they purchase their plants. They have sold a large number of plants in this manner. Extensions are still being planned.

Other groups are now slowly getting back to regular meetings but being very aware of Covid-19 still being a threat to us all, and conducting them accordingly.

The Lower Eyre Peninsula Group has closed.

Our Fleurieu, Para Districts, Brinkworth Groups are still continuing along and sometimes attract a new member or two which is still encouraging.

In conclusion

Even though Covid-19 has had such an effect on what we once considered as normal, it seems that we have been able to overcome all the obstacles that we have been presented with and moved forward with as little inconvenience as possible.

We do feel of course for the many members who are unable to socialize through these hard times because meetings and events are some of their only times where they can, and this makes their lives extremely difficult.

We also remember our devastating bushfires which now are sadly becoming the norm in Australia.

Kangaroo Island and the huge Cudlee Creek fires devastated such huge tracts of vegetation and took such a toll on people, property and of course the animals.

In many ways as an organization, Australian Plants can play an important role in the education of the public in relation to climate change, and the appropriate use of Australian plants in places where there is such an extreme risk to themselves or their environment.

Australia faces many new challenges.