Meet Dan Clarke – Conservation Officer, Botanist and Plant Enthusiast

By Heather Miles

Dan is a fully qualified botanist who works as a botanical consultant, operating Arcane Botanica Pty Ltd, within the Ecological Consultants Association of NSW. Dan undertakes flora surveys, providing information for vegetation mapping and type-determinations, and also monitors and searches for threatened flora species. Dan has been involved in several NSW Government Saving our Species Projects since 2015.

Dan began his love affair with plants through bushland regeneration back in 1999. Following education and work experience in both bushland regeneration and horticulture, Dan went to university to study botany in 2007.

Dan graduated from University of Sydney in 2010, with First Class Honours in Biological Science. He completed his studies by undertaking an honours project, attempting to sort out the morphological variability of the native plant species Ajuga australis. Dan is trying to promote this species more in cultivation.

In recent times, Dan has worked part-time at TAFE DIGITAL, as a Conservation and Land Management Teacher, but has recently ceased this work due to pressing work demands. However, Dan continues to mark assessments and guide CLM students in their plant and bushland education.

Dan has become a contacted collector for the National Herbarium of NSW, Sydney and is currently engaged on a large-scale project, collecting an array of common plant species, across NSW, for a study on genetics and climate change implications. This project will be carried out over the remainder of 2022 and may continue beyond. Dan has collected over 500 species-samples for DNA analysis, across NSW. 

Dan has goals in the future to focus more on botanical history and databasing; to continue to work and engage with Herbaria (including at an international level through volunteering – which is now possible online!), to continue to hunt for those threatened species, and only work on projects that have integral conservation value.

Dan holds a strong belief that the most exciting project opportunities can come initially from volunteering, rather than paid work, which may then circulate towards an outcome of finding yourself getting paid! “We never know how a volunteer project may evolve and where it may take us”.

Dan is thoroughly enjoying working on the Plant Profile Database for the Australian Plants Society – NSW; a database he feels will serve as one of the best for NSW gardeners and native plant enthusiasts in time to come. So far the database has over 800 profiles, developed by Jeff Howes, Warren Sheather and Dan himself. The current goal is 1000 and beyond. See the database here