It's shaping up to be a cracker of a year for Tondoon
THE new year is kicking off with a bang for the Tondoon Botanic Gardens.
The garden will feature in this month's Australian Geographic after making the magazine's top 10 for regional botanic gardens.
Staff are also looking forward to the construction of a new fire-proof herbarium, starting next week, which will be double the size of the existing facility.
Barry Meiring, has been parks and conservation senior coordinator for the past three years.
He said the gardens would also be celebrating their 30th birthday later in the year and acknowledged it was "credit where credit's due" for Gladstone Regional Council, which has supported the gardens over the three decades.
Mr Meiring said making the Australian Geographic list should help the gardens become better known nationally.
He said volunteers had been flocking in recently and he expected further crowds off the back of the magazine's announcement.
"It hasn't been easy if you think about what happened in Gladstone a couple of years ago with the boom, the social fabric changed," Mr Meiring said.
"A lot of retirees went down to Hervey Bay and Bundaberg where it was more affordable. And those are the people that generally volunteer for you.
"The number (of volunteers) has almost doubled since October because of the starting of a new group - the bonsai volunteer group."
The bonsai group is one of the garden's many projects in the pipeline this year.
Brent Braddick, curator at Tondoon for the past 12 years, said one of the big projects being worked on at the moment was the propagation of the endangered Macadamia jansenii or bulburin nut.
The rare nut has only been found naturally occurring in one population in Bulburin National Park, near the Boyne Valley.
"We have a genetic selection from those plants here at Tondoon," Mr Braddick said.
"We are working with the National Botanic Gardens and the Macadamia (Trust) to propagate from these plants and to get another four populations into (other) botanic gardens. The key one is the National Botanic Gardens in Canberra."
As well as the scientific and community work the Tondoon gardens has carried out, Mr Braddick said they played an important role in the community as a place for people to "walk around, relax and unwind".
He said a number of rarely seen bird species had been sighted in the gardens, including the black bittern, the endangered emerald dove and the nankeen night heron.