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Value Of World Heritage Area highlighted in chytrid report


The significance of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) in protecting the State's wildlife has been highlighted with a recently completed study into the distribution of a fungal disease that is threatening frog populations around the world.

The Department of Primary Industries and Water report, which looked at the distribution of the Amphibian Chytrid Fungus in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA), found the majority of the area was free of the disease - although it was more widespread outside.

Parks and Wildlife Service general manager Peter Mooney said the report not only highlighted the significance of the TWWHA but also how important it is to manage and protect native species.

"The TWWHA is an internationally recognised 1.38 million hectare area of conservation value and threats such as Amphibian Chytrid Fungus are taken extremely seriously," Mr Mooney said.
"The fact that the disease is present within Tasmania though the majority of the TWWHA is free of the disease is a good indicator that the way it is being managed is assisting with the long-term survival of these native frog species.
"Findings of this report will help us to assess and manage activities that might pose a risk to this iconic World Heritage area," Mr Mooney said.
Report co-authors Matt Pauza and Michael Driessen said the study had been undertaken to establish whether the disease occurred in the TWWHA, - the main habitat for Tasmania's three endemic frog species, and other frog species as well.
Mr Driessen said a previous survey had shown the disease was widespread in rural and urban areas of eastern and northern Tasmania.
Mr Pauza said the disease was found at only one site out of 33 surveyed within the TWWHA indicating that the area is largely free of the disease.
"Chytrid was recorded more frequently at sites surrounding the TWWHA with the disease present at 15 of the 29 sites surveyed, Mr Pauza said.
Mr Driessen said because the majority of the TWWHA is not readily accessible and is largely free of chytrid fungus and the fact that Tasmanian frogs reproduce in ponds rather than streams, it may be feasible to control the spread of the disease in the TWWHA.
"We currently have information available that advises people on how they can assist in reducing the chances of it being further transmitted," Mr Driessen said.