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Thursday, 25 March 2021
The Calyx, The Royal Botanic Garden
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC

Bujari gamarruwa






In greeting you in the ‘Sydney language’ of the Gadigal, I, too, pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the botanical significance of this land to its traditional owners, the Gadigal people.

The name of the traditional owners, the Gadigal, comes from a combination of the word ‘Gal’, which means people, and ‘Cadi’, the original name of the area where we are today. ‘Cadi’ comes from the local grass tree species called ‘Gulgadya’ or Xanthorrhoea, a plant whose stems were used for the sections of a spear shaft glued together with resin.[1]

The depth and wealth of the knowledge of the Gadigal of the plants of their country, including their use for food, health and medicine, for tools and construction, and for hunting and land management is, at long last, but we trust not too late, beginning to be understood by today’s wider Australian community.

One of the great benefits of being Patron of Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens - and with the Royal Botanic Gardens originally being part of the Governor’s domain and now a close neighbour of Government House - is that this rich botanical history is at my doorstep while I am resident at Government House. It is mutually available to our visitors, many of whom we share as people move from one precinct to another.   

The seasonal changes in the gardens are magnificent.  However - as, and if not more importantly, and as the signage around the gardens tells us - plant sustainability is vital to our continued existence.   The scientists here at the Royal Botanic Gardens are the heart of the transformative work involved in ensuring that plant sustainability is a priority and a reality.

The establishment of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science will bring that work to the world’s attention and it will be a world leader in ensuring the continuing viability of precious and unique flora amid environmental challenges and environmental disasters. 

According to a recent study, 486 species of plant require immediate action to support recovery from the 2019-20 bushfires.[2] These plants include rainforest trees and shrubs like Monga Waratah (Telopea mongaensis) and plants from subalpine vegetation, such as the nationally listed Critically Endangered Bredbo Gentiana (Gentiana bredboensis).[3]

The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust has a two century distinguished history of documenting the unique plants of Australia.  Its work is informed by tens of thousands of years of knowledge, accumulated by First Nations’ peoples in plant taxonomy, ecology and ecosystem engineering, in order to sustainably manage our landscapes.    

The work is continuing.  It is estimated that ‘more than 3400 species of plants, algae, fungi and lichens have been discovered, documented and named in the last 25 years.’[4] 87% of our plants are not found elsewhere on the planet.[5]

The research to be undertaken by the Institute, in collaboration with scientists around the world, will be critical to ensure plant species are protected for future generations. 

Its work will harness the passion of scientists for identifying and conserving our rich, increasingly threatened and unique diversity of plant life, to scientists and future scientists, here in NSW, across Australia, and around the world.


[2] - October 2020 study by Macquarie University and NSW Government agencies


[4] Australian Institute of Botanical Science Prospectus

[5] Ibid

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