I first met Anders soon after moving to Wollongong – planting trees in Robinson park, Gwynneville. This was the first of many Keira Green Corridor plantings that year and I met so many other Wollongongites who are still around. During the 1990’s, Botany students at Uni – even old ones – were encouraged to visit Anders across the road at the Botanic Gardens. His office was the seed collections too, so there was always soooo many bags and trays. On this score, Anders was the wealthiest person in the Illawarra.
Anders taught me most of the local botany through continuous conversation on walks. Many people who have had this experience have described how they start spinning out after a while. It was as though new pathways in your brain were growing then and there.
One quality that was a decoration on his character, was how he shared his understanding and his botanical catalogue, complete with minutae’, with everyone who was with him. Anders showed many of us the paths to certain spots and notables, and his memory for individual trees, even after many years, allowed him to find them again. He could sniff them out too – or whatever that sense is that leads you to the Here It is tree. With my respect to our Indigenous Peoples, it is no wonder that life becomes a series of story lines and discovery when you have a job like Anders. This work is a cultural practice and a language for country, but in Botanical Latin names and European cultural usage. I like how we can all still carry the baggage of Linnaean Botany because of its universality, but also how we can learn the Aboriginal Culture and Names too. These are interchangeable languages for the country, and so we all look for that connection with the Indigenous Community to complete our culture. Anders was for that, as much as any of us.
Anders has left an extraordinarily large and diverse seed collection, complete with his unique handwritten records. Certain movements of the man can now be traced, as certain as if followed, because there is a list of known associates (plants, some of them trees), all conveniently located along the same path, that he met on the same day.
With the help of CVA and Green Corp we have begun to photograph and to propagate this next batch of Anders’ local seed collections at Warrigal Nursery. Gradually the bags are being divided up for propagation, for there is some very useful, and very important work to be preserved and converted to tubestock.
So, it has come to be a great loss, our Anders. He has served this country with his life and enthused everyone he has met along the way. He left forests in his wake and we’ll always cherish him every time we see his trees.
Anders has contributed significantly to biodiversity projects in the Illawarra including the ‘Illawarra Woodland and Rainforest’ project. Anders worked hard in raising awareness about the loss of biodiversity in the Illawarra and plants at risk in our region.
Below is an excerpt from a paper prepared by Anders entitled ‘Plants at risk in the Illawarra’…
Most of our local plant communities are now listed as Endangered Ecological Communities especially the lowland plant associations. However some localised plant communities are still not listed and deserve to be: e.g Melaleuca armillaris open scrub/low forest which is restricted to latite ridges and slopes between Albion Park/Oak Flats and Jamberoo/Kiama. Our mangrove and salt marsh communities also deserve to be listed as does lowland riparian rainforest and dry rainforest. Further research and field work needs to be undertaken to identify other plants and plant communities which need listing and protection.
Most of these plants would have been more widespread but their habitats or environments have been largely destroyed and often severely altered and degraded over the last 200 years, to the degree that these plants and their habitats are at serious risk of extinction and so are currently considered threatened.
Download the introduction paper: Intro to table 1 by Anders
“What we’ve lost is nothing short of a national tragedy but what’s done is done. The question now is how are we going to conserve (protect) what’s left” – Anders Bofeldt 1993
Commenting on the clearance of the Illawarra’s vegetation over the last 200 years.