Eight years after the plant-killing disease myrtle rust was discovered in Australia the federal government has released a draft action plan that provides a framework for a nationally coordinated environmental response.
Since the arrival of myrtle rust in Australia and the failed eradication attempt, there has been no coordinated action to mitigate the threat beyond the awareness program run by some states.
Myrtle rust has established in Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory. It has gained a foothold in Victoria and Tasmania.
There are many urgent actions that can still be taken to limit the impact of myrtle rust in Austalia, prepare for losses and promote recovery. We must prevent it from spreading into South Australia and Western Australia, and halt new strains arriving in Australia.
Most importantly a coordinated, a funded response must occur.
Myrtle Rust is caused by the introduced fungal pathogen Austropuccinia psidii, and poses a serious and urgent threat to Australia’s native plants and animals. IT affects plant species in the family Myrtaceae (paperbarks, tea-trees, eucalypts, and lillipillies), which are key and often dominant species in many Australian ecosystems.
It has proved capable of infecting 358 native species and this number is likely to grow. Serious declines towards extinction are underway in some species, and broader ecological consequences are expected.
Myrtle rust is likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance protected under national environment law, including listed threatened species and ecological communities, wetlands of international importance, world heritage properties, and national heritage places.
Have your say
You have until 31 August 2018 to submit comments on the action plan. Email comments to: MRActionPlan@apbsf.org.au
We encourage you to urge that national, state and territory governments fund and rapidly implement the plan as a matter of national importance.
The plan is supported by an impact report: “Myrtle Rust reviewed: the impacts of the invasive pathogen Austropuccinia psidiion the Australian environment”.
Immense thanks go to the Australian Network for Plant Conservation’s Bob Makinson and others that contributed to the draft plan and impact report.