In 2004 following devastating fires in January 2003 and inspired by Griffins’ vision for the National Capital, the ACT Government developed a proposal for an International Arboretum to be established on a 250 hectare site six kilometres from the centre of Canberra, at the western side of Lake Burley Griffin. In 2004 the ACT Government held an international design competition and Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) / Tonkin Zulaikha Greer’s (TZG) entry, 100 Forests / 100 Gardens was selected as a result of a two stage selection process.
The National Arboretum Canberra masterplan is centred on creating 100 forests with the world’s most endangered tree species, interspersed with 100 gardens.
The arboretum offers the unique opportunity to redefine the meaning of public gardens in the 21st century. It grows out of the very real issues of sustainability, biodiversity and public environmental concern. The 100 Forests not only provide a unique experience- the pleasure of being enveloped in a forest of one species- but are also seed banks for the future. Each holds a viable population to preserve vulnerable and endangered species. It is a strategy, a program and an ongoing event, not a design based chiefly on aesthetics.
As it develops into the future, 100 forests / 100 gardens will build links across the world, an exchange of knowledge and actual plant material that will work towards reversing the planets loss of biodiversity.
As of 2011 80 of the 100 forests have been installed, with detailed design occurring for major visitor facilities, including roads and paths, lookouts, visitor centre and gardens.
Recently, Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) / Tonkin Zulaikha Greer won the 2011 Victoria Medal for Landscape Architecture from Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Victoria (State) Award for the National Arboretum, Canberra Australia. The jury gave the following citation in presenting the award.
This planning project was an inspired response to the complexities of accommodating and positioning a rich tapestry of flora in a recently fire ravaged site on the western flank of Canberra. Demonstrating qualities of temporal thought, careful human and flora management and curatorship, sensitivity to siting of facilities and infrastructure, the overall masterplan lays the foundations for a highly significant and diverse arboretum collection whilst successfully addressing the topographical and aesthetic characteristics and constraints of the site.
IMAGE CREDIT: ©John Gollings