Fight back against the deadly dieback

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times

Visitors to Meelup Regional Park are urged to use newly installed dieback cleaning stations before entering in a bid to prevent further spread of the deadly plant pathogen.

The introduced disease, phytophthora dieback, is a major threat to the South West’s biodiversity, and has so far been detected in about 25 per cent of the 600ha park.

But the City of Busselton, with support from CoastWest, has begun ramping up its attack on dieback with limestone sheeting on trails, phosphite foliar spraying, community training programs and hygiene stations at seven of the park’s entry points.

Meelup Regional Park management committee deputy presiding member Peter Randerson welcomed moves to protect the park. “We’re moving in the right direction to combat the spread of dieback,” he said. “It’s important to conserve the park and keep it in its natural state.”

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A mapping report undertaken in February found about 60 per cent of the park was not infected and another 13 per cent was deemed “unprotectable”.

According to the Department of Parks and Wildlife, more than one million hectares of WA land is infected with dieback.

It is believed to have been introduced by early European settlers and prevents plants from taking up water and nutrients.

City environment officer Kay Lehman told the Times damage to flora meant it was also potentially deadly for wildlife.

“It has implications for about 40 per cent of native plant species as well as the animals that rely on these plants, like honey possums and pygmy possums,” she said.

“This is why we’re urging people to use these stations and clean soil off their shoes before entering the park.”

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