Posted December 07, 2015 13:42:06

Head for the hills Photo: There are more weeds at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden than in the previous, a former gardens official says. (Audience submitted: Brian Cartwright)
Map: Adelaide 5000

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’ newest spending budget allocation and ongoing funding declines have been evident to standard gardens’ visitors.

“You’ve only got to walk about Mount Lofty at specific instances and Wittunga at certain instances 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 am cranky with the Government — this has been going on for quite some years.”

Mr McAlister mentioned the quantity of gardeners had declined drastically more than the years.

“When I speak to some of the employees who have been there a extended time, like almost 35 years, they hold on speaking about the good old days,” he said.

“There utilized to be as numerous men and women working in the Adelaide gardens as there are now in the complete organisation.

“I appreciate of course of those last 30 or so years there is 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 quite, really tough to maintain up standards.

Ed McAlister

He praised the present gardeners for managing as nicely as they did.

“Going by way of the annual reports and going through the government figures, I estimate there’s about a 20 per cent [spending budget] reduce for the last couple of years,” he said.

“When you have got a budget of $ 5 million to $ 6 million and they preserve taking cuts at that sort of level, it really is just extraordinary.

“The number of employees has been cut drastically. The employees that are there they do a sterling job with what they’ve got but it is really, extremely challenging to preserve up standards.”

Mr McAlister said he thought past botanic gardens boards had been a lot more vocal than more recent ones.

When the government wanted to take [added] land for the zoo there was amazing argument — I do not believe that would take place these days,” he said.

“There might be stuff going on behind the scenes that I’m not aware of, but publicly I’ve not noticed or heard something and I think it’s all a matter of not rocking the boat.”

The workplace of Atmosphere Minister Ian Hunter said in a statement

The Botanic Gardens of South Australia continues to make certain the upkeep of its gardens by way of enhancing efficiency of its operations — like the use of water-smart irrigation and is focussing on protection of our planet-class collections.

Subjects: activism-and-lobbying, states-and-territories, adelaide-5000, sa

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