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Sunday, December 22, 2002

The introduced plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi has been estimated to directly affect over 2000 of the 9000 native plant species in the Southwest of Western Australia (a global biodiversity hotspot), and is consequently a major land management issue in Western Australia.

The 'Dieback of plants caused by the root-rot pathogen P. cinnamomi' is listed as a 'key threatening process to Australia's native species and ecological communities by the Australian Government.

Unfortunately, Phytophthora is now present in most vegetation types across Australia including heathland, moorlands, dry sclerophyll forest + scrub and is altering the ecological processes + composition of many of these places.

This disease also impacts on tourism (restricting access to areas), forestry (killing plantations), conservation (disturbing natural ecological communities), mining (the movement of soil), potable water supplies (which may transfer soil and the disease), mammals + beekeeping (which may depend on certain plants for food + shelter)...

Sadly this "fungus" can easily enter new areas by dirt adhering to vehicles, items people are carrying or on footwear and then hide undetected in the roots of affected plants until plants start dying!

Consequently, it is almost impossible to know exactly where it already exists in Australia or to try to eliminate it once it reaches an area.

It is therefore much better to attempt to prevent Phytophthora's spread in the first place...

If you found this item of interest why not find out about California's Sudden Oak Death problems and solutions?