TropEco for Staff and Students JCU Living Collection

JCU Living Collection

The JCU Living Collection encompasses all flora on campus, from our bushland to gardens, and indoor plants. The collection is housed across all campuses, and remote sites, with accurate mapping and species surveying in place for our collections management.  Plants held in the collection are a combination of wild field collected specimen not grown anywhere else in the world, rare and threatened species, bushtuckers and traditional use species and generic horticultural species from all over the world.  The living collections are guided through the JCU Master Plans, and embrace 7 principals of engagement and representation, these are Education and Research, Connection to Country, Cultural significance,  Conservation, Sustainability, Mental health and Aesthetics.   Within the overall all Living Collection there are various programs and initiatives, our primary programs being;

Threatened species program: 

The Threatened species program focuses on assessing and collecting wild rare and endangered species from throughout QLD, these species are then grown on for ex-situ conservation on campus and future research.  Species, collected under permit, are rigorously mapped and linked to their field data, as well as individual clone data, to ensure the long-term viability of the program. This program is primarily funded by the Department of Environment and Science, who in return gain vital information on the ecology of some of our rarest plants for ongoing management.  The program is shared between our Estate Directorate and our Science and Engineering Faculty, allowing for a well rounded and sustainable delivery.

Sustainable landscaping:

At TropEco we are striving to find more climatically suitable species for landscaping to decrease our water usage and ensure no environmental threats are used in our landscape. This has been brought to life with the use of rare, and even never before cultivated, species from all over the world to ensure more sustainable and interactive designs. On the Townsville campus this is focused around creating a tropical environment using the world's arid land species such as the famous Boabs and native grasses, and in Cairns by using local North QLD rainforest species, on both campuses we strive to supplement and replace our invasive cultivated plants to more environmentally responsible native alternatives.

Myrtle Rust Initiative:

Myrtle Rust is an exotic fungal disease affecting the plant family Myrtaceae (eucalypts, paperbarks, tea trees, lilli-pillies, pendas, etc.). Recognised nationally as a ‘Key Threatening Process’ (Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act - EPBC), it has the potential to impact over 2000 Australian plant species and affiliated animals which rely on them for food and habitat, but also to industries such as timber, agriculture, essential oil production, and landscape horticulture.  Here at JCU we have been busy assessing which species of NQ plants are impacted, as well as capturing clones to maintain within our managed collection.  This has created a safe haven for some of our most unique and at risk species.


One of TropEco’s roles is recovering and improving our beautiful campus' native bushland. This includes not only removing and controlling weeds but also replanting thousands of native plants back onto the campus each year.  These species help improve the habitat for our campus fauna, as well as assisting in carbon trapping and soil regeneration.  Across our campuses and remote sites we have many ecosystem types, including, Mangroves, dry and lowland rainforests, vine thickets, woodland and sclerophyll, just to name a few.

Teaching and Learning:

All around the campuses you can find special teaching and learning gardens that showcase signage and contain anything from traditional use plants to threatened species or unusual evolutionary traits. These are free for the public and schools to access and are used in some of our Bachelor and Masters subjects for a more hands on experience.

The Arboretum project:  

TropEco is responsible for developing and bringing our campus Arboretums to life, focused around sustainability, education, conservation and ensuring the campus experience is memorable for our students. Our Townsville campus is our TropEco Botany centre with hundreds of tree species grown at our dedicated greenhouses for conservation and research, rehabilitation, our community garden, teaching and learning and sustainable landscaping.  The Townsville campus fit for purpose Arboretum in in development, however for now we have a myriad of trees scattered through the estates of all campuses.