Collections Policies and Permits

Strategic Plan and Acquisitions Policy

  • Mission

    To support and facilitate teaching and research in plant sciences at the University of Melbourne.

  • MELU Goals
    • To manage a scientific collection of the Victorian flora and representative specimens from elsewhere in Australia and around the world
    • Train the next generation of plant scientists, ecologists and conservation biologists in the importance, and preparation of voucher specimens and the use of herbaria
    • Serve as a repository for voucher specimens documenting research by University staff and students
    • Engage with students and the public to promote the significance of biodiversity, plant science and herbarium collections
    • Be an active member of the Univerisity’s Cultural Collections, and the Australasian Herbarium community through the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH).
  • Acquisitions Policy

    The Herbarium will acquire individual items or entire collections according to the following policy:

    • Clear legal title passes to the University of Melbourne
    • The acquisition is consistent with the mission of the Herbarium
    • Specimens are of a high quality such that they have potential for reference, research, or teaching (see specimen quality guidelines below)
    • Specimens not deemed to be of high quality will not be incorporated into the main collection, but can be stored outside of the main collection area for a minimum of 5 years to meet the University’s research data compliance guidelines
    • The curator should be consulted prior to collecting and requesting to lodge batches of specimens (≥10)
    • Specimens may be acquired by donation or exchange subject to the disposal policy below
  • Specimen quality guidelines
    • The minimum data to be provided electronically with the specimen, is collector’s name and number, date of collection, precise location, and geocode. Note: these may be waived for historic specimens but not for recently collected specimens.
    • The physical specimen should have vegetative and reproductive parts, which have been dried to show the diagnostic features clearly
    • As a general rule, specimens without reproductive parts are of low value to the Herbairum and are discouraged
    • High quality specimens are specimens that add significant taxonomic, geographic, ecological or historical value to our collection
  • Deaccessioning and disposal
    • No significant or substantial component of the collection is to be disposed of without prior consultation with the Vice-Chancellor, via the Cultural Collections Committee, after approval by the Head of School.  Any such component to be disposed of is to be offered free of charge to an appropriate institution.  These would normally be, first, The National Herbarium of Victoria, and secondly, any other Australian herbarium via the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH).
    • Individual items may be deaccessioned if they are of poor quality or are otherwise deemed by the Director to no longer fill the mission of the Herbarium.
    • The Herbarium may dispose of specimens received by donation or exchanged to us, prior to accession that do not fill the mission of the Herbarium. If donation/exchange specimens are not accessioned, the Herbarium will inform the donating institution so they can update their records.

Plant Collecting Permit

  • Overview

    Scientific research undertaken on public land (and water) in Victoria must have the approval of the land manager and meet legislative requirements under a number of acts, including the Wildlife Act 1975, the National Parks Act 1975 , the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and the Reference Areas Act 1978 . The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEPI) is responsible for administering the research permit process in Victoria to ensure compliance with biodiversity conservation and legislative requirements. Similar requirements apply to other States.

    The School of BioSciences is committed to ensuring it is compliant with these requirements.

    The School of BioSciences has developed procedures to ensure that all staff and students are aware of, and comply with, requirements of collecting and research on public land.

    • A plant collecting permit officer (appointed by the Head of School) monitors compliance on all permit issues.
    • All Victorian plant collecting permit applications must be processed via the permit officer.
    • All staff and students wanting to use the School of BioSciences plant collecting permit must be signed onto the permit by the permit officer to obtain a copy.
    • All activity conducted under a permit must be recorded by the permit holder, and a summary of the activity appended to the report on expiry of the permit.
    • Authorized staff and students must supply their activity on the proforma provided by the plant collecting permit officer.
    • A report must be submitted to the Permit Issuing Authority via the School's plant collecting permit officer within 30 days of expiry of the permit.
    • The plant collecting permit officer reports on permit issues to the Herbarium Committee, which in turn reports to the Head of School via the Departmental Committee.
    • Corrective Actions are reported to the Herbarium Committee and resolved by the plant collecting permit officer.
    • Serious Breaches of Compliance are reported to the Head of School for appropriate action.
    • Copies of all other plant collecting applications and permits (e.g. for other states) need to be supplied to the plant collecting permit officer to be held in a central file in The University of Melbourne Herbarium. These are summarized in a permits register.
  • Permit Frequently Asked Questions

    Who is the School of BioSciences Plant Collecting Permit Officer? Andrew Drinnan (Director, University of Melbourne Herbarium)

    What are the responsibilities of the School of BioSciences Plant Collecting Permit Officer?

    • Advise School of BioSciences staff and students on permit issues.
    • Liaise with DEPI regarding BioSciences permit issues as necessary.
    • Administer the School of BioSciences general plant collecting permit.
    • Maintain a central record of authorized collectors, applications and permits for plant collection.
    • Ensure reports are submitted to DEPI on expiry of permits.
    • Report on permit applications, approvals, expiries, and reports to the Herbarium Committee.

    Does the School of BioSciences have a general collecting permit?

    Yes. The School of BioSciences has a permit issued under the National Parks Act 1975 and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 for the collection of "herbarium specimens and minimal quantities of seed and propagation material" from all public land and waters in Victoria, including National Parks and reserves. This permit is issued to the Head of School, who has the authority to authorize specific staff and students to operate under the conditions of the permit

    What sort of activity does this permit cover?

    This permit allows for the collection of:
    Taxa: all except members of the Orchidaceae family and threatened taxa (Schedule 2 or Section 10 of Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988)
    Plant parts: herbarium specimens and minimal quantities of seed and propagation material.
    Quantity: up to 10% of reproductive material or 5% of cutting material from any one plant and up to 25% of any taxon per population.

    This largely restricts the use of the permit to activities that have a short duration, sporadic frequency, and minimal impact on the population or environment, such as systematic studies, sampling small amounts of material for DNA extraction, or collecting cuttings to establish plants for a glasshouse experiment. This permit is particularly amenable to projects with a broad geographical scope where it may be necessary to sample a species in a particular National Park on only one occasion.

    How can I use this permit? Contact the plant collecting permit officer and explain your proposed activity. If it falls within the conditions of the School of BioSciences permit they will organize your authorization and give you a copy of the permit.

    What if my proposed research activity falls outside the conditions of the permit? If your proposed activity involves an extensive and sustained field component, and if it is based substantially in one or just a few locations then you should apply for an individual permit specific to your research project. For example, this would apply to an ecological study where sustained experimentation and data collecting is necessary. Contact the plant collecting permit officer and they will advise you as to the appropriate permit. Copies of all permits must be lodged with the permit officer.

    What are my responsibilities regarding collection on public land?

    • Ensure that you are authorized for collecting/research under an appropriate permit.
    • Seek the necessary approval of the appropriate local land manager (e.g. Ranger-in-Charge of National Park)
    • Comply with the permit conditions
    • Document all activity conducted under permit
    • Lodge a copy of all records/documents with the School of BioSciences plant collecting permit officer
    • You must carry a copy of the permit with you

    Record all your activity under the permit in your field notebook so that it can easily be summarized for inclusion in your final report. If you are collecting on the School of BioSciences general plant collecting permit, you will need to forward this information to the plant collecting permit officer as soon as possible after the collecting has taken place.

    Where possible, avoid collecting on Parks Victoria managed land. If you are collecting on Parks Victoria managed land, arrangements must be made in advance with the Ranger-in-Charge. Be sure to explain carefully what you want to collect, and quote the permit number and conditions. Keep all records of these arrangements (e.g. correspondence, notes in your field notebook of dates of phone calls and who you spoke to) as evidence that you are complying with the permit conditions; summarize these on your report to the plant collecting permit officer.

    Where can I get further information about permits?

    See the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning web site for information on all permits for Victoria, and to download an application form for a permit to take protected flora.

  • Other useful links for Victoria