Wildflower Society of Western Australia
The Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc.) (WSWA) is a member of the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) (ANPSA(A)). In each of the other states of Australia, there is a region of the ANPS(A) (each with slightly differing names) and they share many of the aims of the WSWA.
The objectives of the WSWA are:
- To encourage the conservation and preservation of Australian and particularly Western Australian native plants by supporting efforts to strengthen laws and regulations for the conservation of Australian flora, encouraging enforcement of laws and regulations and making submissions on the preservation of Australian wildflowers to government and other organisations interested in the preservation of Australian wildflowers.
- To promote the cultivation of Australian native plants in home gardens and public areas.
- To promote the study of Australian native plants and to keep records of information on growing methods and the performance of such plants under cultivation.
- To support the establishment and operation of branches within the state of Western Australia.
The Society has a fund for the:
- conservation of bushland;
- raising public awareness of bushland;
- called The Wildflower Society Bushland Conservation Fund.
Interest in the flora of Western Australia (WA) began not long after European settlement in 1829. On 26 January 1884 the Natural History Society petitioned the state government ‘to set apart a reserve for protection of the indigenous fauna and flora’ and in February 1894 the Pinjarra Reserve was gazetted. In 1907 the Natural History Society again petitioned the state government of the day for Pinjarra Reserve to be vested as a National Park.
- 1912 – Western Australian Floral Birthday book by Constance Miller
- Post World War I – Dr W.E. Blackall’s work and publications on knowing Western Australia’s wildflowers.
- 1921 – Wildflowers of Western Australia, an illustrated book by E.H. Pelloe.
There was considerable national interest in the nation’s native flora and on 12 March 1957 the inaugural meeting of Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP) was held in Melbourne, Victoria. Arthur Swaby who spearheaded a national approach in the interest of native flora, visited all states. This led to the inaugural meeting for what was later to become WSWA, being held on 18 March 1958, at Applecross, WA to form the Regional Council of the SGAP. Those present (the WSWA’s founding "fathers") were:
- Mrs Spence, Mr Les O'Grady, Mrs R Roe, Mr and Mrs Mount, Mrs Hargraves, Mrs Hart, Mr and Mrs Lullfitz, Mr and Mrs Gray,
- Mrs Fawcett, the Misses King, Mr Chambers, Mrs Taylor, Miss Nan Harper, Mrs Strickland, Mrs de la Hunty, Miss Sue Harper, and Mrs J. Hamersley.
Thus in 1958 the Regional Council of the Society for Growing Australian Plants for Western Australia was formed, and in 1962 it changed its name to Western Australian Wildflower Growers Society. There was another name change in 1964 to the Western Australian Wildflower Society (Inc.) and finally in 1990 the name was changed to today’s nomenclature: Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc.). The Society was one of four organisations that assisted in the formation of the Conservation Council of Western Australia in 1967.
The WSWA today has some 1000 members. A shared wonder of Western Australia's flora has brought together professional and amateur botanists and interested enthusiasts.
The aims of WSWA are to understand Western Australia’s plants, to share information on how to recognise them, to protect the bushland in which they grow, and to propagate and grow them. WSWA operates as an "umbrella" organisation: all members are automatically members of all branches. There are a number of branches in the Perth region: Armadale, Darling Range, Eastern Hills, Murdoch, Northern Suburbs and Perth as well as and in the country: Avon, Albany, Kulin and Merredin. The branches meet and undertake activities that include seed and plant conservation, WA native plant growing, tours, flora surveys and voluntary work at their local and the State’s herbaria. A general Management Committee services the whole society with committees including Conservation, Garden matters and the Bushland Conservation Fund.
The society publishes a quarterly newsletter which lists the activities of the branches as well as providing articles on topics associated with wildflowers. In addition, members may choose to receive the full colour quarterly Australian Plants. This is a national publication focusing on plant identification and propagation.
From time to time, members work with Government Departments such as the Department of Environment and Conservation, especially the WA Herbarium, The Department of Environmental Protection, and Kings Park and Botanic Garden.
Since 1958, a clear position on flora conservation has been developed by the Society. In 1991 this position was formalised as a policy known as the Society's Principles of Flora Conservation. Since then two further policies have been formalised: the Seed Policy in 1995 and Revegetation Policy in 1996.
The Principles Of Flora Conservation - preamble to the policy. The activities of human beings necessarily interact with the natural world. Since the industrial revolution, human activities have modified our global environment giving us uncertainties of climate change, acid rain, ozone depletion, extensive loss of natural ecosystems, disease and pollution to mention a few. The loss of species is an advance sign of the accelerated destruction of natural ecosystems. We need to address this decline urgently.
We all need to manage our activities and developments with much greater care and sensitivity towards other living things. A key part is keeping people in contact with natural vegetation. This opportunity still exists in the Wildflower State of WA - unlike the situation in most of Europe. But much needs to be done to educate the community, politicians and decision makers if we are to halt the loss of bushland and decline of biodiversity in our own backyard.
The Wildflower Society of WA believes that the conservation of our remaining bushland heritage is of paramount importance. The philosophy of conservation of the beautiful and unique wildflowers of the West is encapsulated in the ten principles of flora conservation.
Principles of Flora Conservation - Seed Policy - preamble. For many years the Society sold seeds to both Society members and the general public. Society members donated time to collecting, selecting, preparing and distributing wildflower seed for sale. In times when wildflower seed was only available through specialist bodies these seed banks allowed Society members and the wider community access to a variety of seeds of our wildflowers in quantities suitable for home gardens at low cost. For many years this was a core activity of the Society and raised a large proportion of the Society's consolidated funds. Today wildflower plants and seeds are much more readily available to the home gardener through nurseries and seed merchants. Also revegetation programs and bushland restoration have created a wildflower seed industry calling for the collection of tonnes of seed. This seed industry is regulated through the Department of Environment and Conservation. As the peak community group concerned with flora conservation in the state, the Wildflower Society serves on advisory groups related to this industry.
Revegetation Policy - introduction. A major aim of the Wildflower Society of WA is to preserve native flora. The natural Western Australian landscape is a valuable asset worthy of protection and conservation, thus retaining our sense of place. Land clearing in Western Australia has resulted in extensive loss of native vegetation, habitat and landscape amenity.
In the Perth Metropolitan area and the wheatbelt only small patches of remnant vegetation remain. Many species of plants and animals are either extinct or threatened with extinction. Our unique Western Australian landscape has been modified and often bears little resemblance to that which existed before European settlement. Clearing of native vegetation in rural areas has caused a rise in water table levels resulting in salinisation and water logging of soil. This has led to the continual degradation of remnant vegetation and loss of productive agricultural land. This scenario is likely to increase dramatically in the short term.
Revegetation of rural catchments is one of the key strategies for controlling rising water tables and salinity. While commercial species (e.g. blue gums and oil mallees) are being used and are valuable to primary industry, indigenous (local native) vegetation can re-establish the Western Australian landscape amenity and provide habitat for our endangered fauna. The aim of this policy is to provide a set of standards and guidelines to encourage the preservation and regeneration of indigenous vegetation.