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Epson furthers commitment to environment and sustainability with new Botanic Gardens of Sydney partnership aimed at saving endangered rainforest species

September 2023

Epson furthers commitment to environment and sustainability with new Botanic Gardens of Sydney partnership aimed at saving endangered rainforest species

SYDNEY, 27 September 2023 – Furthering its commitment to the environment and sustainability, Epson Australia has entered a new partnership with Botanic Gardens of Sydney to help address critical environmental challenges, with a specific focus on saving Australia's vulnerable rainforest species.

Vulnerable rainforest species Sloanea woollsii. Photo credit: Botanic Gardens of Sydney

Epson Australia MD Craig Heckenberg explained, "Our partnership with Botanic Gardens of Sydney is deeply committed to playing a role in preventing the rapid loss of plants and the impending extinction of species impacted by the harmful myrtle rust fungal disease. This partnership aligns closely with Epson's dedication to achieving sustainability and enriching communities. By emphasising the importance of progressing toward a nature-positive and climate-resilient nation, this further highlights Epson's commitment to making a meaningful difference in both the environment and the communities we serve."

The Epson Australia team inside the award-winning Australian PlantBank conservation and research facility at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, with Dr Cathy Offord, Head of Australian PlantBank Research

Australian rainforest plant species face numerous threats, including habitat fragmentation, invasive species, diseases and the impacts of climate change. At present, there are at least 16 rainforest species that are likely to become extinct within one generation, and there are over 350 other species that are also affected by myrtle rust – a significant proportion of our unique Australian flora.

Through the partnership, Epson will be supporting the Botanic Gardens of Sydney's research and conservation efforts, with a primary focus on the Rainforest Seed Conservation Program. This program propels innovative conservation methods for storing seeds and plant material of rainforest species, many of which cannot be conserved by traditional seedbank storage methods, making them more vulnerable to the risk of becoming threatened or extinct.

Epson's partnership with the Botanic Gardens of Sydney will support the team at the Australian PlantBank to continue advancing the development of alternative conservation techniques, including tissue culture, cryogenic storage and living plant collections. This crucial 'protective custody' provides an ongoing source of material for research and enables plants to be returned to the wild as part of rewilding or restoration programs.

Amanda Rollason, Botanic Gardens of Sydney's Technical Officer, prepares plant specimens for storage in sterile tissue culture at the Australian PlantBank, an alternative to traditional seed banking. Picture credit: Botanic Gardens of Sydney.

Botanic Gardens of Sydney Chief Executive, Denise Ora, said Botanic Gardens of Sydney is a purpose driven organisation that relies on support from partners such as Epson to help achieve positive environmental outcomes through shared values in sustainability and conservation.

Epson volunteer planting session at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

"Native Guava is a critically endangered rainforest species and with Epson's support, our scientists will conduct critical work in developing a genetically diverse collection in tissue culture at the Australian PlantBank. This will help to secure this species in our living collections and enable a range of research outcomes aimed at eventually restoring this species in the wild to help build more resilient ecosystems for generations to come," Ms Ora said.

Epson Australia Environment & Sustainability Manager, Fatida Un, added, “This partnership not only underscores the importance of conservation and biodiversity but also aligns seamlessly with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals by promoting community education and advancing climate action.”

To celebrate the partnership, Epson employees recently joined the Botanic Gardens of Sydney's horticulture team to help restore habitats with understorey plant species such as shrubs and grasses, which play a vital role in the natural landscape by protecting the soil and providing food and shelter for insects and animals.

Craig Heckenberg concluded, "As we collaborate with the Botanic Gardens of Sydney, we are inspired by the diverse range of initiatives they advocate for as their iconic botanic gardens, cutting-edge research facilities, powerful community engagement programs and youth education initiatives open doors for our partnership to thrive. Our new partnership will truly help Epson and the Botanic Gardens of Sydney to co-create meaningful value within our local communities."

More about The Rainforest Seed Conservation Program
The Rainforest Seed Conservation Program aims to increase the Australian and global capacity to conserve rainforest species by improving our understanding of their biology, developing best-practice methods of conservation, and working with other conservation agencies to prevent future loss of plant species in the wild.

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