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Update on response to Myrtle rust - 8 March 2011
- Update on response to Myrtle rust
8 March 2011
The Myrtle rust Coordination Group met on 8 February 2011 and 23 February 2011 to consider further actions to respond to Myrtle rust (Uredo rangelii) following ongoing detections of this plant disease in New South Wales and Queensland.
Myrtle rust is a disease that affects the Myrtaceae family of plants, which includes many Australian native species including Eucalyptus. Myrtle rust was first detected in Australia on the Central Coast of New South Wales in April 2010. Analysis of the detections in state forests and nature reserves suggests that the disease may have been present in Australia for at least two years prior to detection.
The fungus that causes Myrtle rust has not been found before in Australia. It belongs to a group of fungi known as the ‘eucalyptus/guava rust complex’. This complex is native to South America and is also present in the United States of America (Florida and Hawaii) and Mexico. It is not known how Myrtle rust entered Australia. Rust fungi produce microscopic spores which are carried by wind, on infected plants and as contaminants on other items such as people’s clothing, or on traded goods that are transported around the world.
On 22 December 2010 it was agreed that it is not technically feasible to eradicate Myrtle rust and impractical to contain the disease from spreading further. This decision was based on our understanding of the behaviour of the disease, its increasing host range and its spread beyond the New South Wales Central Coast to a large number of domestic, commercial, public and recreational sites.
Due to the potential for Myrtle rust to have an ongoing impact on the natural environment, the community and potentially affected industries, ongoing arrangements to nationally coordinate projects or direct actions to manage the disease are being put in place.
The Myrtle rust Coordination Group, chaired by the Commonwealth, with technical and policy input to be provided by primary industries and environmental agencies within each jurisdiction, relevant non-government organisations and affected industries has been established.
Members of the Myrtle rust Coordination Group include representatives of the Australian Government Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, representatives of state and territory primary industries and environment departments, Plant Health Australia, A3P, Nursery and Garden Industry Australia, the Institute of Foresters of Australia, the Australasian Plant Pathology Society and the National Association of Forest Industries, RIRDC, New Rural Industries Australia, and Australian Tea Tree Industry Association and Wildflowers Australia. Representatives of other non-government organisations have also been asked to contribute their skills and expertise.
The Myrtle rust Coordination Group is considering and coordinating ongoing actions to respond to Myrtle rust focusing on mitigating its impact on the natural environment, including threatened and endangered species and industries that rely on Myrtaceae.
These actions include education and awareness, activities for slowing the spread of the disease collation and analysis of information about the behaviour of the disease and its impacts on natural ecosystems.
Further information on Myrtle rust, including questions and answers and activities being considered by the Myrtle rust Coordination Group.
Previous communiqués are available on Myrtle rust and information activities undertaken to date.
09 Mar 2011