Weeds are taking hold in parts of Adelaide’s botanic gardens as funding dries up, a former Botanic Gardens deputy director Ed McAlister says.
He told 891 ABC Adelaide the South Australian Government cut $ 600,000 when it made the city and Hills gardens’ latest budget allocation and ongoing funding declines were evident to regular gardens’ visitors.
“You’ve only got to walk around Mount Lofty at certain times and Wittunga at certain times and there are weeds there that never would have been there 25 to 30 years ago,” he said of the two Botanic Gardens sites in the Adelaide Hills.
“I’m cranky with the Government — this has been going on for quite some years.”
Mr McAlister said the number of gardeners had declined drastically over the years.
“When I speak to some of the staff who have been there a long time, like almost 35 years, they keep on talking about the good old days,” he said.
“There used to be as many people working in the Adelaide gardens as there are now in the whole organisation.
“I appreciate of course of those last 30 or so years there’s been a bit of improvement in the way the irrigation’s been done.”
The staff that are there they do a sterling job with what they’ve got but it’s very, very hard to keep up standards.
He praised the current gardeners for managing as well as they did.
“Going through the annual reports and going through the government figures, I estimate there’s about a 20 per cent [budget] cut for the last few years,” he said.
“When you’ve got a budget of $ 5 million to $ 6 million and they keep taking cuts at that sort of level, it’s just incredible.
“The number of staff has been cut dramatically. The staff that are there they do a sterling job with what they’ve got but it’s very, very hard to keep up standards.”
Mr McAlister said he thought past botanic gardens boards had been more vocal than more recent ones.
When the government wanted to take [extra] land for the zoo there was incredible argument — I don’t believe that would happen these days,” he said.
“There may be stuff going on behind the scenes that I’m not aware of, but publicly I’ve not seen or heard anything and I think it’s all a matter of not rocking the boat.”
The office of Environment Minister Ian Hunter said in a statement
The Botanic Gardens of South Australia continues to ensure the maintenance of its gardens through improving efficiency of its operations — including the use of water-wise irrigation and is focussing on protection of our world-class collections.
Topics: activism-and-lobbying, states-and-territories, adelaide-5000, sa