Wetter than average conditions forecast for September have raised concerns of further Phytophthora Dieback (Dieback) spread in Western Australia as we come into our peak wildflower season.
Warm temperatures coupled with increased soil moisture create very favourable conditions for the dieback disease to reproduce and spread.
South Coast NRM Dieback Officer Elissa Forbes said people should be wary of these risk factors and take precautions to avoid establishing new areas of disease.
“People should avoid activities through natural areas in these wet and warm conditions. Although this can be disruptive to their plans, waiting a couple of days for conditions to dry greatly reduces the risk of establishing new disease centres” she said.
Dieback is an introduced microbe of the soil which kills plants by destroying their root system. It has been calculated that the microbe has infested over one million hectares of the South West leaving few precious large tracts of land disease-free. These areas have been identified as Priority Protection Areas for Dieback management as part of a state wide initiative. Most people would be familiar with iconic areas such as the Fitzgerald, Lesueur and Cape Arid National Parks to name a few.
“Existing Dieback management options are expensive and there is no widespread cure. Prevention is the main defence” said Ms Forbes.
So what can we do? To reduce the risk of picking up Dieback infected mud and transporting it to other areas, vehicles and equipment should be cleaned of soil and travellers should stay on designated tracks and avoid muddy areas.
The South Coast NRM Dieback team has developed the first state-wide online Dieback mapping tool (called DIDMS) which anyone can access to view known Dieback and other plant pathogen occurrence. Visit www.dieback.net.au and click on the ‘IT Tool’ tab for the public map. DIDMS is a system set up to help WA industry, government agencies and the community prevent the spread of Dieback. DIDMS and other public Dieback tools are supported by South Coast NRM, through funding from the State Government’s Natural Resource Management program.
Pic: Pat and John Spencer using the boot cleaning station at Bald Head walk – Torndirrup National Park – (Photo: Meredith Spencer)