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Horsetail Falls walk now open


Visitors to the West Coast are in for some spectacular views on the new Horsetail Falls walk near Queenstown.More

Bruny Island Neck lookout re-opens


The walkways and lookout at the Bruny Island Neck will re-open to the public today, following the completion of a new, larger car park that will provide improved access to the popular lookout.More

Maintaining vigilance with campfires


Parks and Wildlife Service staff have thanked the many campers who have heeded the restrictions placed on campfires and pot fires, but ask that park and reserve visitors continue to take care while the fire risk remains high in certain areas of the State.More

Phytophthora root rot

Managing Phytophthora

Phytophthora cinnamomi is clearly well established in many areas of Tasmania. It is continuing to spread from existing infections with the movement of water, animals and its own mechanisms for movement. Humans have the capacity to spread the fungus long distances and across barriers which sets us apart from the natural mechanisms for spread. There is practically nothing that can be done to control the natural spread of the fungus or to destroy it, in the native plant communities. Such actions are largely limited to the horticultural industry where soil fumigation and control of vectors for spread is possible. A line of research under investigation in Australia at present is the application of fungicides to increase the ability of treated plants to resist P. cinnamomi attack. This action does not kill the fungus.

The real distribution of P. cinnamomi will never be known. The resources required to map the distribution of the fungus, limit such actions to localised priority areas. And these maps soon become out of date and unreliable. A state database, managed by Forestry Tasmania records the locations of samples from which P. cinnamomi isolations have been made.

root rot root rot
P. cinnamomi infection on Schouten Island                 Walker using washdown station at
                                                                      Frenchmans Cap track
As a consequence of this management environment, the approach taken has been to focus on protecting biodiversity at risk and where goals are considered to be practicable and achievable in the long term. It is accepted that the epidemic will inevitably run its course in many areas. Prevention is the primary goal for managing biodiversity assets. The assets identified for management are:

  • threatened species that are susceptible to disease
  • large disease-free areas of susceptible native vegetation
  • highly susceptible communities

The report (Schahinger et al 2003), available from the contact below, identifies all the priority areas for management of the biodiversity assets at risk in Tasmania. These sites capture the large disease-free areas and biographically representative sites for the highly susceptible communities and at least three populations where possible for each P. cinnamomi - susceptible threatened species.

 P. cinnamomi infection on Schouten IslandPhotograph of p. cinnamomi infection on Schouten Island. Walker using washdown station at Frenchmans Cap trackPhotograph of walker using washdown station on Frenchmans Cap track.

Prescriptions that apply to prevent the introduction of P. cinnamomi to identified management areas include:

  • controlling developments that increase the risk of introduction eg roads and walking tracks, washing soil from all items prior to entry to the area
  • sourcing materials to be used in works from P. cinnamomi-free stock
  • sequencing and timing operations to reduce risk of introduction

The Parks and Wildlife Service is encouraging visitors to follow basic hygiene prescriptions. The Parks and Wildlife Service is providing washdown stations for public use on some walking tracks. Other washdown stations have been placed on the Frenchmans and McKay tracks to protect large areas of susceptible vegetation (see photograph above).

Washdown stations must be carefully sited, so that the contaminated water from the stations will flow immediately back into diseased areas. Not all tracks lend themselves to such installations and in other cases natural buffers assist in controlling the spread of the fungus. Other management options include track re-routing, track hardening, one-way tracks, wet weather closure of tracks or, if necessary, permanent track closure.

Phytophthora cinnamomi is listed as a threatening process under the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act (1992).