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The Royal Botanic Gardens plays a leading role in the conservation of plants through biodiversity research, programs to protect rare and threatened plants, and the study of habitats. This work is supported by education and visitor programs about the importance of plants to life.

The organisation encompasses two diverse sites at its Melbourne and Cranbourne locations, including the National Herbarium of Victoria, the State Botanical Collection and the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology. The Royal Botanic Gardens is managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens Board Victoria, which is responsible to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

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