The Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP) was founded in late 2002 by two organisations: the Australian Native Plants Society Canberra Region (to develop a regional botanic garden illustrating the ecosystems of the Southern Tablelands and emphasising ground storey plants) and Friends of Grasslands (to further public education about regional ecoystems and develop practical skills and methods to restore natural landscapes).
STEP is a non-profit organisation and is open to membership to any organisation, families and individuals which share its vision.
To create a community-based regional botanic garden, education and ecosystem recovery centre for the Southern Tablelands.
STEP’s aims are to establish:
- A botanic garden representing all ecosystems of the Southern Tablelands;
- A significant conservation corridor linked with the Conservation Management Networks this region;
- An extension program to provide eco-services support to community and government agencies in this region;
- A field station for biodiversity research projects;
- Education projects in restoration and conservation at primary, secondary and tertiary levels;
Community training programs in conservation and restoration;
- A strategy and planning program by agreement with key stakeholders in this region;
- A cultural and social centre for visitors displaying a rich and interactive biodiversity experience of the ecosystems of this region; and
- A connection service for all community and government agencies operating in this region.
The broad objectives of the association are:
- to enhance the quality and availability of practical and scientific knowledge of the ecosystems and species of the Southern Tablelands for both present and future communities and agencies in the region; and
- to promote understanding of the natural environment as the foundation of Australia’s social and cultural (including Aboriginal) heritage; and
- to promote the objectives of the International Convention on Biological Diversity within the Southern Tablelands Region
- to establish and maintain a public fund to be called the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park Public Fund for the specific purpose of supporting STEP.
- Develop a demonstration garden and restore the landscape.
- In partnership with the Ngunnawal people, develop a Ngunnawal presence at the garden site.
- Develop STEP education program
- Develop STEP infrastructure and funding sources
- Create MOU with the International Arboretum
- Employ a project officer
- Develop a plant collection database
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