President’s Report – 2002


   One again another year draws to a close and it is time to reflect on the achievements of the Foundation and the challenges encountered.

   We have completed another round of AFF Research Grants with 3 new projects being approved for funding in 2003. There are two complementary projects on the role of mycorrhizae in propagation of Epacrids, one on seed germination and establishment (Ashford & Palmer) the other on inoculation of cuttings (Conmikes, McLean and Lawrie). The third project is on the biology of Fankenia in Australia (Easton, Whalen and Mackay). Two other projects continue into their second year of funding one on the endangered species Hakea pulvinifera (Taji) the other on breeding of ornamental eucalypts (Sedgley).

   The industry partnership grants program (ie supporting applications to the ARC Linkage or similar industry based funding bodies) has been useful in encouraging researcher to seek collaboration with industry partners for work on native plants. So far, the projects for which AFF support has been offered have not succeeded in obtaining funds but I believe the scheme has good potential and should continue. The project in WA on rhizobium will be re submitted in the next ARC Linkage round.

Emeritus Professor Trevor Clifford, one of the founding members of the Scientific Committee, is standing down this year as foreshadowed. On behalf of the AFF I wish to acknowledge his willing support over the last 20 years and express our appreciation. A new member of the committee will be nominated at this AGM. Dr Charles Morris has also indicated that he will stand down from the position of Treasurer after seven years of service many thanks Charles.

   The AFF Student Prizes were extended this year to include presentations at the Australian Society for Horticultural Science national conference. The winners were:
Best oral paper Amelia Martyn
‘Swainsona sejuncta: a native species of ornamental promise or a potential weed.’
and best poster Shu Ming Luo
‘Genetic variation and phylogenic relationships in the genus Scaevola.’
As usual, student prizes will also be awarded at the conference of the Ecological Society.

   Our attempts to establish an AFF Web site have again floundered with the organisation that had offered to support the site no longer being able to do so. A likely alternative host has now been identified but we are waiting confirmation of this arrangement.

   This past year its has been a case of steady as we go for the Foundation. While we managed to carry out the regular functions and made some early progress in the area of communications (newsletters, the Web site) things floundered in the latter part of the year. Fund raising and membership remain static. The research program supported by the Foundation continues at a steady pace. However, we are not achieving our full potential, so the challenge for 2003 will be to revitalise our activities.

   As an organisation totally dependent on a small band of volunteers, we encounter the usual difficulty in getting some things done. However, the Foundation continues to make a modest but real contribution to our objectives of encouraging and supporting research into the Australian flora. For this I wish to thank the members of Council and the Scientific Committee for their ongoing support. And of course, I acknowledge the financial contributions of all members and donors without whom the Foundation and its research program could not exist.

Professor Richard Williams