A species of Gondwana era tree is being translocated for the first time, with 20 seedlings being planted across four secret sites in a NSW Government initiative to save the species.
Minister for Environment James Griffin said the endangered Nightcap Oak tree is only found in one region and was severely affected by the 2019–20 bushfires.
‘The plight of the Nightcap Oak tree is similar to that of the Wollemi Pine, but it’s the lesser known of the two,’ Mr Griffin said.
‘This species was only discovered in the year 2000, but its origins can be traced back 40 million years to the Gondwana era.
‘The population of Nightcap Oaks north-east of Lismore is the only known population in the wild, and during the recent bushfires, about 20 per cent of the existing trees were destroyed or impacted.
‘Thankfully more than 500 seeds were able to be collected for propagation in a specialist nursery, but they’re notoriously difficult and slow to grow.’
Since the collection, 50 seedlings have been successfully grown and 20 of these will be translocated to four secret sites in the Nightcap and nearby Mount Jerusalem national parks on the NSW North Coast with the rest being planted in coming months.
NSW Government Saving our Species officers and the Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan species experts identified the sites based on their long-term climate resilience.
‘This conservation program demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to protecting our threatened species for future generations,’ Mr Griffin said.
‘The Nightcap Oak is the ancient rainforest equivalent of the Wollemi Pine in terms of evolutionary significance, and it’s yet another great example of a critical species that we’re helping to bring back from the brink.’
The program is part of the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program, which is backed by a $175 million commitment over 10 years.