David Templeman

David Templeman

Minister for the Environment; Climate Change; Peel

    State Government announces next stage in fight against dieback

    28/11/2007 6:00 PM

    The next stage in a major $1.3million Saving our Species dieback control project has begun in Fitzgerald River National Park, near Ravensthorpe.

    Environment Minister David Templeman said the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) would install a three-kilometre plastic membrane in the park to prevent plants spreading Phytophthora cinnamomi (the cause of the Phytophthora dieback disease) through root-to-root transmission.

    “This is a very exciting project using several innovative methods to help stop one of the deadliest plant killers in Western Australia,” Mr Templeman said.

    “In Fitzgerald River National Park, a 185ha Phytophthora cinnamomi infestation known as the Bell Track infestation, threatens to destroy tens of thousands of hectares of native vegetation.

    “This could cause the mass collapse of ecosystems and significant interference with important ecological processes within the park.

    “There is no known cure for Phytophthora cinnamomi, which is why the Carpenter Government is acting now to prevent further spread of this infestation.”

    Installation of the plastic membrane will complement other benchmark strategies being undertaken in the park by DEC, including the construction of a 12km fence around the entire Bell Track infestation to prevent animals such as kangaroos from spreading the disease.

    The 90cm-deep plastic membrane will be placed into a one metre-deep trench at areas where there is a high risk of the disease escaping from its current catchment.

    Research has determined that the large proportion of plant roots in the park do not grow below this depth. However, a chemical dispersion system will be placed at the bottom of the trench to deliver a root-inhibiting chemical to discourage deeper roots growing under the membrane.

    The Minister said membranes were traditionally used by horticulturalists to keep unwanted tree and shrub roots out of irrigated areas, such as lawns and golf greens.

    “However, DEC is not aware of this technique being used anywhere else in the world to control dieback - it is a very innovative approach,” he said.

    “Fitzgerald River National Park is a world-renowned protected area and World Biosphere Reserve and in order to conserve its unique biodiversity for future generations we need to explore all viable control options.

    “Importantly, techniques used in the Saving our Species Bell Track project have the potential to be applied worldwide to help protect high value biodiversity assets and fight the devastating effects of the disease.”

    Saving our Species is the State Government’s two-year, $15million initiative addressing critical biodiversity conservation priorities throughout the State where significant long-term results can be achieved from a short-term, strategic focus.

    Mr Templeman said several more innovative strategies would be implemented over the next few months as part of the Saving our Species dieback project.

    Minister's office: 9220 5050