APS NSW Strategy update

By Heather Miles, Secretary

Over the last 6 months, the board, along with members and groups, has been developing the next three year strategy for APS NSW. Here is an update on the opportunities and challenges ahead for us, as a society, and what our strategy needs to deliver for us. Your feedback as always is very welcome. 
For 60 years, APS NSW members have been passionate advocates for Australian native plants. Our original intent as a society was to encourage the growing of native plants in gardens to conserve and protect them. We did this by providing local and relevant advice and growing plants for sale to each other and the public. 
  • Members showcased their gardens.
  • They walked many miles exploring the bush and plants within them. 
  • They penned thousands of stories and hundreds of books about native plants, both practical ‘how to’ guides as well as scientific works. 
  • Along the way, they formed life long friendships through their engagement with APS NSW and a shared passion for native plants.

Show and tell with Phil Trickett, image Di Clark
More recently, natives have entered (though are not yet established in) the mainstream:
  • Many nurseries, supermarkets and hardware stores provide beautiful and often reliable plants for the gardener.
  • TAFEs, consulting firms and others are providing information on native plants.
  • Local councils are specifying the use of native plants in new houses and developments. 
  • TV shows and social media are advocating native plants. 
  • Younger generations, through global social networks, are demonstrating a commitment to a more sustainable world, in which native plants are vital.

For some, it might seem our job is done, with native plants being steadily introduced into gardens and reserves and many academics and practitioners, as well as the public taking up the cry for growing and conserving native plants.

Yet, over the last 60 years, the world has undergone changes that few of us anticipated. Today we face:
  • human-induced climate change, with massive population and development pressure
  • global food insecurity and local water wars
  • the threat of more extreme bushfires and even the Covid-19 pandemic

These all cause us to take stock of our world’s drive for continuous profit growth at the expense of the natural world. 

Image Ralph Cartwright

Australia is seeing massive species loss with many plants and their habitats under threat, along with the fauna that depends on these plants. Land clearing, feral animals, weeds, diseases and warming of the planet with more variable rainfall mean our unique plants must either adapt or die, unless we can hold back or reverse this tide of change.

As the Australian Plants Society, we could argue that our job to grow, conserve and protect our plant species is definitely not done. In fact it could be more important now than it was 60 years ago. But as a small volunteer based organisation, how can we have impact and use our resources wisely?

The strategy we hope to develop takes us some way along this journey to determine how we continue to make a difference. It aims to recognise that one of our greatest assets is the knowledge, skills and passion of our members and the relationships they have with each other and other organisations. The strategy will present a series of actions that bring this knowledge, skills and passion to new generations of gardeners asking for the ‘how to’ of growing native plants, to farmers asking for advice on species for regeneration and revegetation, to government bodies requesting assistance to identify and track native plants and to local councils needing help to weed and plant remnant areas.
These are small steps, but small steps can sometimes make a big difference.
We will share more information about the strategy as it develops.