PRESIDENT’S REPORT - 2007

The objective of the Australian Flora Foundation is to ‘Foster research into the biology and cultivation of Australian plants'. Progress in the past 12 months is illustrated by the final reports received.
• Dr Kirby’s final report (1991) on microbial symbionts of Sturt’s Desert Pea was missing from our files, but he has kindly supplied a replacement. His work showed that the symbionts are resistant to high temperatures (30 min at 120°C).
• Webster and Woodrow’s (2005) final report was delayed while the authors published in refereed journals. The study ‘Genetic diversity and plant propagation in the rare rainforest tree, Ryparosa kurrangii’ showed that cassowary gut passage significantly improved seed germination, from 4% to 92%. This opens the way to an efficient method for propagating this rare tree.
• Delpratt and Shears’ (2006) final report ‘The effect of nitrogen fertility and mowing frequency on the persistence of twelve Australian perennial forbs in a planted grassland community’ showed that the survival of forbs in grassland communities was poor, but was enhanced by annual mowing and harvesting of the communities, and by not providing nitrogenous fertiliser.
• Ashford and Palmer’s (2007) final report ‘Germination, establishment and mycorrhizal synthesis in the Epacrid Woollsia pungens’ describes methods for propagating Woollsia from seed, and showed that for most vigorous growth the seedlings needed to be in growing medium inoculated with mycorrhiza isolated from plants growing in the wild.
• Orsheg’s (2007) final report ‘Seed longevity and viability in several plant species of Box-Ironbark Forests’ examined patterns of in situ and ex situ seed longevity, dormancy and viability decay over three years for eight species. The report showed that the soil longevity of soft-seeded species rarely exceeded 12 months, but for hard seeded species usually exceeded 3 years. Given that fire events in these forests are becoming more rare, this suggests the likelihood of long term changes in species composition.
The full final reports, as well as nearly all previous final reports and publications arising from them, can be accessed on the Foundation website at http://www.aff.org.au.

New research grants have been awarded to Dr Margaret Johnston, University of Queensland, for ‘An evaluation of the temperature and daylength requirements of Australian potted colour species’
to Carola Kuramotto De Bednarik, Australian National University, for ‘The relative importance of fire regimes, environmental gradients and climate change for rainforest distribution in the Sydney region’
and to Dr Peter Wilson and Dr Maurizio Rossetto, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, for ‘Reproductive biology of the Magenta Lilly Pilly (Syzygium paniculatum).and its implications for conservation’.

A significant activity this year has been the installation of a new executive, consisting of Peter Goodwin, President; Ian Cox, Secretary; Jenny Jobling, Treasurer and Vice Presidents Richard Williams and Charles Morris. Apart from a few hiccups, the transition has gone smoothly. Jenny has been a very active Treasurer, and apart from managing the financial transition to the new executive, has been able to provide reports which clearly show past and future commitments on grants.

Peter Goodwin, President
26th November 2007