The Heavy Hiker

Sharing Hiking Experiences in Western Australia

Can’t See The Forest for The Trees

Summer is here which means my boots will be getting a rest as I prepare for next season; listing the trails I want to visit and booking annual leave for some short trips. My research brought me across a number of trails that happen to be smack bang in the middle of dieback affected bushland.

Dieback is a serious issue in Western Australia with over 40 percent of WA’s native plants being susceptible to the disease including some of WA’s most iconic trees; the banksias, jarrah trees, and grass trees.

So, since it’s such a big issue threatening our beloved bush, why are so many people ignorant about it?

I learned about dieback as a kid both in school and from my parents on our various 4 wheel driving jaunts across the state and the effects are widespread and becoming increasingly evident in the metro areas.

Dieback is actually a symptom of a Phytophthora infection (Yep, totally googled how to spell that!) which kills off susceptible plants by limiting the plants ability to take up water and nutrients.

According to the DPAW website:

“The area of land infected in Western Australia by Phytophthora dieback is equivalent to 500 times the size of Rottnest or over one million hectares”

… and it’s spreading causing a loss of biodiversity, reduced variety of native plants and disruption to woodland vegetation structure and an increase in introduced weeds.

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So, what can we do about it?

Sadly there is no cure for dieback we can only seek to limit the spread:

Use the boot washing stations. You’ve probably seen stations when you’ve been out and about but I’ve frequently seen bushwalkers walk around the stations without a care in the world.  C’mon people!

Stay out of quarantined areas in bushland. If you see signage for dieback affected areas it is recommended to stay out of these zones when it’s raining, or for two days after rains.

Do not move soil or plant material. This should be a given, you shouldn’t be moving any soil or plant material regardless of whether you’re in a dieback area anyway.

Ignorantia juris non excusat. Ignorance is no excuse.

For more information visit:

Dpaw.wa.gov.au. (2017). Phytophthora dieback – Department of Parks and Wildlife. [online] Available at: https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/pests-diseases/phytophthora-dieback

Dieback.net.au. (2017). About Project Dieback | Dieback in the Southwest. [online]  Available at: http://www.dieback.net.au/about/about-project-dieback.html

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