The Australian Network for Plant Conservation and the newly formed Friends of the Forgotten Woodlands Inc, hosted a workshop on Friday at Lake Bolac about Silver Banksia, Banksia marginata. Coincidentally 24 February (1743), was the birthday of Sir Joseph Banks, after whom the genus banksia is named.
Over fifty people from far and wide representing landcare, CMAs, ARI, universities, VicRoads, Trust for Nature, DELWP, Wettenhall Foundation, propagators, seed collectors, landholders, Field Naturalists, Conservation Management Networks, Parks Victoria, consultants, committees for management and municipalities, gathered to hear about work to improve the future for silver banksia. This meeting was the result of the hard work of a few interested parties and followed on from a much smaller meeting in March 2015 where attendees spent time mapping the remaining populations and discussing issues that have led to local extinctions.
Silver Banksia is a large shrub/small tree that used to be sparsely scattered across the Victorian Volcanic Plains (VVP) but today is mostly missing from the landscape. The death of some of the last really old plants initially triggered this community based project on the VVP, but there appears to be wider interest in trying to plant more banksias into the landscape, with people traveling from Euroa and north west Victoria to attend the workshop. Silver Banksia is found in small populations across Victoria and provides habitat and a food source for insects, birds and small mammals.
After the first meeting, funding was secured to do genetic testing on silver banksia across the VVP. The preliminary results of genetic testing plant material from over 22 sites, indicates that there are no obvious signs of inbreeding. This paves the way for the next big step, the planning and growing of enough plants to establish seed orchards. Mixing seed from at least 4 provenance types and including least 30 plants per provenance in plantings of 400-500 banksia, is the aim.
Planning for some of these seed orchards is underway and VicRoads have already identified 13 seed orchard sites and will work with adjoining landholders and the CFA. A pilot project to showcase ecological restoration is planned for the Western Highway near Black Bottom Road, Trawalla where there are still some remnant banksias.
We hope to provide links to the presentations soon to what was a very interesting and positive workshop.