Page 4938 - Week 11 - Thursday, 21 October 2010

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(2) The National Arboretum Canberra has a goal to plant 100 forests by the time of its official opening in 2013, the year of Canberra’s Centenary. It is anticipated that another 18,000 trees will be planted at a projected cost of $189,000 (excluding GST) over this period.

(3) The National Arboretum Canberra is still in its construction phase and not formally open to the public. Consequently there is no systematic method of recording visitor numbers at this time. However, as the Arboretum’s development is of great interest to the public, opportunities have been provided to the Canberra community and visitors to the National Capital to access the site and learn about the project.

The Friends of the NAC have hosted two public open days. The inaugural event held in March 2009 attracted an estimated 4,500 visitors over the course of the day, and the March 2010 event had an estimated attendance of around 7,000 people.

Over the financial year 2009-10 the NAC team and the Friends of the NAC provided 37 guided tours to community groups and the general public. This provided an opportunity for approximately 1,600 visitors to access the site and learn about the project as it develops. The NAC has also hosted 10 tree planting events with International Heads of State/ Government, an Australian Minister, Ambassadors and the diplomatic community. One public artwork launch has also been hosted in recent months. These invitation only events have seen around 350 additional visitors to the Arboretum, importantly including several international visitors.

The site has been open to the public each Sunday for equestrian, cyclist and pedestrian access since November 2009, but there is no mechanism in place to count these visitors. However, this year the National Arboretum gates will be opened to permit public vehicle access each Sunday during Floriade. The first Sunday saw approximately 250 visitors to the site and it is anticipated this number will grow as the word of the opening spreads.

Considering all these visitor opportunities, it is estimated that somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 people have visited the site to date.

(4) The forests and facilities of the NAC are still being established and the site is not expected to be formally opened until 2013. However, it is anticipated that the public will be provided with regular access as the site develops, consistent with safety considerations appropriate to a construction site. Visitor numbers will depend on the facilities and gardens in place, but are expected to increase over time as the NAC is further developed. More formal projections of visitor numbers will be estimated in the business and marketing plans currently being developed for the NAC.

(5) Security costs in the early years of the development of the NAC were either minimal or met by the various contractors. Security costs were approximately $3,400 in 2008-09 and $17,700 in 2009-10.

Maintenance costs met from the operational expenses budget were approximately $167,900 in 2007-08; $150,000 in 2008-09 and $400,000 in 2009-10.

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