President’s Report – 1984


The Council of the Foundation has continued its endeavours to get the Foundation established on a sound base so as to remain a viable and effective organisation in the years ahead. This has been a slow process with many difficulties all of which have been experienced by others in the establishment of research foundations. The problems have been both legal and financial, the former having now been resolved but the latter remains not only in the research fund but also in the availability of funds for administration. This has seriously limited communication with members but it is hoped that publication of this combined Report 3/4 will open the lines of communication again and engender further support for the running of the Foundation.
This year has not been a good year for approaches to Companies, and other organisations for research funds and their responses reflect the continuing uncertainty of the economy. Much support for the Foundation has been expressed, but this has not to date been backed up by funding support.

In May 1984 the World Wildlife Fund launched its International Plants Campaign and this has obviously attracted funding from companies which could in other years be expected to contribute to the research funds of the Foundation. This ‘competition’ for funds probably has been to the Foundations detriment at this stage of its establishment, although the objectives of the World Wildlife Plants Campaign are to be applauded and supported by the Foundation. The Plants Campaign is concentrating on the conservation and study of rare and endangered native plants. Several members of the Foundation including Dr John Leigh, Dr Robert Boden, Mr David Cheal and myself have contributed to the compilation of the Australian list of plants at risk. Drs Leigh and Boden in association with Mr John Briggs, have also written a book entitled “Extinct and Endangered Plants of Australia”, which was launched at the opening of the World Wildlife Plants Campaign.

During the year the Foundation became a corresponding member of the Australian Academy of Science (Plant Sciences) and it is hoped that this will be another avenue for promoting the Foundation as well as giving it further credibility upon which to pursue funding for submitted research projects.

Invitations have been extended to many organisations and individuals to submit research proposals for possible funding by the Foundation and many excellent project suggestions have been forthcoming for consideration by Council and the Research Committee. For example some of the project areas covered are:-
1. Effects of varying levels of U.V. light on plant growth.
2. pH tolerance of native species in cultivation and the effect on flower colour.
3. Seed dormancy and treatments to break dormancy.
4. Pollination mechanisms of species having commercial cultivation potential.
5. Ecological studies of rare and endangered species.
6. Treatments to increase the flowering period of species grown for cut flowers.
7. Grafting techniques for western and eastern State species to ensure increased longevity.
8. Relationship of root depth/soil type to humidity and soil moisture regime for container culture.
9. Compatibility of species with various root stocks such as Kunzea sp and Callistemon sp.
10. Propagation techniques such as “leaf cuttings” for genera and species not currently propagated by such techniques.
11. Investigation of potting mediums for herbaceous species.
12. Environmental influences on flowering of species having commercial potential as fresh cut and dried flowers.

These are only a few of many projects suggested by members and other interested personnel. All projects have been listed for possible support in future or for perusal by higher degree students, research staff and others. Several detailed proposals for native plant studies and funding support from the Foundation have been received during the year. These have been considered by the research committee and Council and corporate funding for the projects is now being sought from appropriate companies.

A list of research projects currently being carried out by Foundation members, Universities and other research institutes has been compiled by staff of the Australian National Botanic Gardens. This list will be published dependent on availability of funds as an interim list to which other projects will be added in future reprints and as knowledge of other projects is acquired. Any contributions to a more complete list are welcomed by the authors. Please forward background information on any project being carried out or to be commenced but not listed, to Dr Robert Boden, Director, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra.

The Flora Foundation has now reached a stage where research projects and funding need to be actively canvassed. The Foundation can be considered as being at the ‘make or break’ point where it can either forge ahead or stagnate depending on how successful it is in attracting corporate support for research projects, as well as maintaining a strong and interested general membership.

The Council has over the last year made considerable progress through the enthusiasm and dedication of the individual councillors. It is very pleasing that all the council members are prepared to continue their active but voluntary contribution to the Foundation during these formative but at times rather trying initial years.

I express my thanks to all members who have supported the Foundation either through donations or direct involvement and I look forward to being associated with all again during 1984/85.
In closing I must apologise for the rather poor communications with all the members but with the establishment of a secretariat during 1984/85 this problem will be alleviated.