Getting back to the roots

Western Australians were brought back to the root of the problem when it came to discussing the deadly plant disease Phytophthora Dieback at the recent 2016 Dieback Information Group (DIG) Conference that was held in Perth last Friday.

Themed ‘Getting back to the roots’ this year’s conference had a shift in the focus towards on-ground management of Phytophthora Dieback and what that might mean for WA’s land managers.

Roughly translated as the plant destroyer in Greek, Phytophthora Dieback is an introduced plant disease that embodies 140 different species. However the most severe species that has caused the most widespread damage to native plants in Western Australia is P. cinnamomi.

This disease lives in soil and plant tissue, and causes root rot in susceptible plants that limits their uptake of water and nutrients. It is even able to survive the extreme dry soil conditions of our summer months.

Highlights of the conference included DWG’s past and present outlooks for Phytophthora Dieback, including information about their Green Card Training; the viewing of South Coast NRM’s new Dieback infomercial that is now screening on WIN TV; CSIRO’s global map of the current distribution of Phytophthora cinnamomi; and hearing firsthand about trials of on ground management strategies in WA.

What Can I Do To Help?

To successfully reduce the spread and impact of Phytophthora Dieback we need your help.

Phytophthora Dieback should be an important issue for home gardeners, landscapers, new home builders, off-road vehicle enthusiasts and bushwalkers.

You can help stop the spread of Dieback by:

  • Asking for dieback-free materials such as soil, gravel, potting mix and mulch;
  • Buy plants from NIASA accredited nurseries. Do you know if your local nursery or garden centre is accredited? If they are not accredited have they got procedures in place that minimise the threat of taking dieback home to your garden? For an up-to-date list of accredited nurseries in your area go to ngia.com.au/accreditation/niasa.asp
  • Don’t spread soil or mud around bushland, in particular during spring and autumn
  • Stick to tracks and paths when bushwalking, using off-road vehicles and when horse riding
  • Conduct phosphite treatment in infested areas on your property or in your local bushland to reduce the impact of the disease
  • Observe signage in your local bushland reserve and stay out of quarantined areas in bushland and forested areas across the south-west
  • Join your local community group or catchment group that’s helping to protect your local bushland from threats such as dieback and weeds

For more information on Phytophthora Dieback visit the Dieback Workgroup website at www.dwg.org.au

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