Parks Australia safeguards rare tree from local extinction

The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for the Environment

Cuttings taken from a critically endangered tree species by Parks Australia staff just months before the Black Summer bushfires are highlighting the importance of ongoing Morrison Government strategies to restore native habitat as part of its $200 million bushfire wildlife and habitat recovery funding.

The Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel has listed 471 plant species requiring the highest priority intervention following the bushfires. This year’s National Tree Day (August 2) is a reminder of the terrible toll fires have taken on our native vegetation.

Staff at Parks Australia protect and conserve thousands of native species, including some of our most threatened plant species such as the Banksia vincentia, magenta lilly pilly and Kakadu hibiscus.

The propagated plants taken from Murramarang National Park prior to the bushfires were divided between the Booderee National Park Botanic Gardens and the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens.

A subsequent fire at Eurobodalla Gardens on New-Year’s Eve, destroying all but one of the 40 scrub turpentine plants successfully propagated has meant the Booderee cuttings are now critical to the re-establishing the local population.

“While the project did not start out as a bushfire recovery effort it has most certainly become one,” Minister Ley said.

“We are investing $5 million through Greening Australia in seed bank programs and have quarantined further funding for native plant species as part of our $200 million recovery commitment.

“People understandably focus on the plight of our wildlife, but habitat restoration and the recovery of individual plant species form a vital part of the recovery process.”

Booderee National Park Botanic Gardens Collections Officer Stig Pedersen said the timing of the NSW South Coast collection had proven critical in hindsight.

“Just a few months later the Black Summer bushfires devastated those areas with the Currowan fire ripping through swathes of Murramarang National Park,” he said.

“Close to 40 cuttings were taken from specimens in Murramarang National Park which have bolstered the Booderee collection of the critically endangered species to more than 50.”

Booderee National Park Botanic Gardens, along with Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens and the Australian National Botanic Gardens, are part of the South Eastern Australian regional botanic gardens network which has spearheaded conservation projects to ensure the survival of threatened species in the region.

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