Date: January 19, 2016 Garden: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Outcome Journalist: Erin Kinley Summary and Observations Water conservation is the top priority for this 38-hectare (94 acres) garden. With climate change predicting Melbourne to become much hotter and drier, executives at the garden are building a water-use plan to match the 2090 climate projections for the area. Efforts toward water conservation have already started with the garden’s Working Wetlands project. The Working Wetlands are man-made wetlands designed as floating islands that are small enough to fit in a large pond or small lake. The mobile wetlands can then be moved by motorboat, or lifted out and moved to another body of water, to areas in need of remediation. The Working Wetlands are part of the garden’s efforts to use storm-water runoff from the city to irrigate plants. When it rains, storm-water is diverted to the streams and ponds at RBG Melbourne, where the wetlands are able to remediate the water, which can later be pumped into the garden’s irrigation system. The working wetlands aren’t just functional though--they are also a beautiful feature in the garden. Programming is another important part of RBG Melbourne. The garden strives to connect with as many people as possible through a wide variety of programs, from Moonlight Cinema and punting on their lake to activities for disabled children in their kitchen garden. Creating engaging programs often has trade-offs, though. Last summer the garden partnered with Disney to put a program that featured Disney fairies in the garden. Although incredibly popular, some people were upset by the program because they felt that a botanic garden shouldn’t be partnering with such a commercial entity like Disney. RBG Melbourne has plenty of other ways to engage children, however, and has many programs for schools and school-age children, partnering with the Kids in Nature Network to put some of these on. Administrators say that more market research needs to be done to develop this target audience, though. The may stem from a recent push to include more programming for secondary school students even though the garden’s strength lies in children’s programs and current research shows that children connect better with nature than older students. Age aside, RBG Melbourne measures the success of programming for schools by looking for feedback from teachers of participating classes. Last but not least is RBG Melbourne’s Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology. ARCUE envisions cities using urban ecology not just in parks and other features, but making it a part of daily life for all city inhabitants. ARCUE works to make this a reality by conducting research, training Master’s and PhD students, and providing consultations for cities looking to include urban ecology in their planning. In addition, ARCUE Director Dr. Mark McDonnell travels around the world giving talks to city governments and universities about the importance of urban ecology.