Myrtle rust - Helping prevent the spread of myrtle rust
If you think you've found myrtle rust in your own backyard take a photo of the plant and send it to the NSW Department of Primary Industries at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're in Queensland you can ring the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries on 13 25 23.
It's important not to take a cutting from your garden and bring it in to us to check - this can spread the disease. If you have myrtle rust, talk to your local nursery about available treatments.
Myrtle rust on willow myrtle (Agonis flexuosa) | Dr Louise Morin, CSIRO
If visiting Booderee there are also a few precautions you can take - clean your shoes after entering or exiting the park, wash your clothes, hat and backpack before visiting other natural areas and leave your vehicle in a designated car park.
At Booderee we're maintaining our good horticultural practices in the Botanic Gardens, monitoring and reporting on the distribution and abundance of the disease and the species of plants which are infected. The Gardens are in a good position to contribute to the nationwide effort of halting the spread of the disease by recording the reaction of plant species to myrtle rust.
Having such a good scientific plant collection in place means we are able to pass on our observations to other institutions and industry, as part of the collective effort to build our understanding of myrtle rust.
So what is myrtle rust?
Myrtle rust is an exotic fungal disease that affects plants in the Myrtaceae family. This family includes a wide range of native plants, such as eucalypts, bottle brush and tea trees. Myrtle rust spores are easily spread by wind and through human and animal contact.
Fox control at Booderee
Foxes are highly adaptable predators. They can survive in a wide number of habitats. They were introduced into Australia in the 19th Century and are now found throughout the southern two thirds of the continent.
Why do we want to get rid of foxes?
Foxes have a major negative impact on a wide range of Australian fauna particularly medium sized mammals (bandicoots, quolls, bettongs, potoroos, bilbies, pademelons).
How are foxes controlled in the Park?
Baits containing sodium monoflouroacetate (1080) are buried at 1 km intervals throughout the Park.
1999 - August 2003: non-lethal baits were set out once every six months, then replaced with lethal baits once evidence of consumption by foxes was present.
2003 - present: lethal baits are set out every month and removed after two weeks.
How do we know whether it has been successful?
- Because fox numbers have declined
- Because bandicoots have increased until 2007 when they declined (probably due to drought conditions)
- There are more animals in Booderee National Park than in surrounding National Parks
Booderee continues to make great strides in its fight against the invasive African weed bitou bush.
Bitou bush was planted in the 1960s to help stabilise the shifting dune behind Bherwerre Beach. It quickly spread
from there to the dry sclerophyll forest next to the dune system, spreading to the point where this area had one
of the worst infestations on the New South Wales south coast.
Bitou bush aerial survey 2004
Bitou bush aerial survey 2007
Bitou bush is a perennial evergreen shrub in the daisy family, a native of South Africa and a major environmental weed of dune and coastal forest in southern Australia. It is classed as a Weed of National Significance.
In the 1990s, with Booderee now a national park, two techniques were developed to revolutionise bitou control.
The first of these was aerial spraying. This technique involves a helicopter spraying a high concentration of
Glyphosate, a commonly used non-selective herbicide, over remote or large-scale bitou infestations.
Despite Glyphosate being non-selective, it can be applied without harming native vegetation if sprayed during
winter when bitou bush is still biologically active but most native plants are dormant.
The other major technique was the spray-burn-spray method. This involves first spraying bitou, then burning it once it has died and dried. As with many Australian plants, burning stimulates mass germination in bitou. After a couple of seasons the plants from this mass germination are also sprayed, largely clearing the infestation.
Over the last six years, these techniques have seen the park make great progress in controlling bitou bush,
cutting infestations back dramatically. In 2004 the distribution of bitou was aerially surveyed (Figure1). As a result, the park decided to attack the main infestations behind Bherwerre Beach using the aerial spray-burn-spray method.
Since then the park has surveyed the area in 2010 and again targeted the main bitou infestation with spray-burn-spray.
Why do we want to get rid of Bitou bush?
It competes with native plants for sun, water and nutrients and forms an impenetrable growth under which little else can grow.
How do we control Bitou bush?
The bush is sprayed either by hand or helicopter with Glyphosate (Roundup), a non-residual herbicide. Cured Bitou is burnt to stimulate germination, then before flowering the seedlings are aerially sprayed.
How do we know whether it has been successful?
The extent of the heaviest infestation (greater than 50 per cent bitou coverage) has declined by 70 per cent between 2004 and 2007 due to spraying and burning.