The hort. section Compiled and edited by Ariana Potamianakis Senior Gardener, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha
First word While COVID-19 has consumed what feels like most of our lives
during 2020, it’s important to reflect not only on its impact in highlighting just how essential our green spaces are to us day-to-day, but why they are so valuable, not only for our sanity, but for the bigger picture. If this global pandemic has taught us anything (including good hygiene, of course) it has taught us just how much we rely on — and almost default to — nature. It wasn’t long ago that Australia’s bushfires and the climate crisis were saturating our screens and thoughts. Fast-forward a year on, and although the global focus has shifted to finding our way through this pandemic, on the ground, the effects and efforts following the bushfires are still real and ongoing. I got in touch with the newly appointed Director of Horticulture at the Botanic Gardens Greater Sydney, John Siemon, and Director Research and Chief Botanist, Dr Brett Summerell at the new Australian Institute of Botanical Science, at the gardens to find out how nature has responded and what the future looks like for the protection of our native landscape.
Interview: After the fires — where we are now and where we’re going The bushfires we are experiencing are unprecedented. Have they changed the future of the natural landscapes already or is it too early to tell? Brett Summerell: It is really too early to be sure and there is no one answer to this question. It depends on the nature of the ecosystem, the type of vegetation and the intensity of the fires that went through. It is also important to remember that many areas were suffering extremely badly from prolonged drought prior to the fires and this had a very detrimental effect on many plant species. Ecosystems like rainforests and alpine regions that were burnt will take a very long time to recover and are of great concern — these areas may be fundamentally changed but it will be necessary to monitor and record changes and to increase protections for these systems.
THE BOTANIC GARDENer | ISS 55 SUMMER 2020/21