Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wollemi pine in danger

Well, good onya mankind, you've done it again. Not content to leave the location of these rare pines a secret, people have been actively searching them out even using helicopters to fly over the national park, and wow, how clever they were - they found them!

The Wollemi pine http://au.news.yahoo.com//051103/2/wne3.html

Friday November 4, 01:01 AM AAP

Tree disease hits historic Wollemi pine

A cluster of one of Australia's rarest trees has been infected with a disease thought to have been brought in by unauthorised visitors.

The Wollemi pine, which dates from the dinosaurs' era, was thought to be extinct until park ranger David Noble discovered the species in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in 1994.

The NSW Department of Environment and Conservation said tests this week had confirmed the presence of the plant disease phytophthora cinnamomi in wild stands of the trees in the Wollemi National Park.

The Botanic Gardens Trust will carry out further testing to map the extent of the infection.

The department's deputy director general, Tony Fleming, said the infection was found in material taken from an individual pine during routine monitoring of the grove by rangers last month.

Experts met to devise a contingency plan, which will include extra surveillance of the area, treatment of affected trees with fungicide injections, widespread soil sampling and isolation of the affected trees.

"Phytophthora is a soil-borne fungal disease that causes root rot in many native and introduced plant species," Dr Fleming said in a statement.

"While it is controllable in horticulture, phytophthora can be devastating in the wild, which is why we need to act immediately to establish the extent of the infection, isolate any diseased material, treat the infected tree, and stop the phytophthora spreading."

Dr Fleming said it was not known when or how the plants became infected, but it was likely to have been introduced to the grove by "unauthorised visitors".

The site where the Wollemi pine was discovered in 1994 has been kept secret ever since.

Fire and phytophthora were considered the biggest threats to the species' future, Dr Fleming said.


Tanya said...

Heartbreaking, isn't it? I live on the Great Barrier Reef (well, by it) and there are some reefs and islands classed as preservation zones. No-one is allowed to go there - even scientists doing research need to prove that they cannot do their research anywhere else before they're allowed there. And it seems to be working on the reef. Maybe a similar approach should be adopted for the home of the Wollemi pines (wherever that may be).

Stuart said...

We've got them coming out in pots soon - so I don't think it really matters about the originals (tongue-in-cheek).

Erica said...

I've been reading up on it and can't seem to find if the area was ever restricted to the public - Wollemi National Park is the second largest in NSW stretches from Windsor to Singleton, so it would be a large area to police.

and yes, Stuart, so long as we can buy one at Kmart and someone took pictures of the originals, what's it matter (also tongue-in-cheek)