Myrtle Rust, a plant disease caused by the introduced fungal pathogen Austropuccinia psidii, poses a serious and urgent threat to Australia’s native biodiversity. Myrtle Rust affects plant species in the family Myrtaceae (paperbarks, tea-trees, eucalypts, and lillipillies), which are key and often dominant species in many Australian ecosystems. To date it has proved capable of infecting 358 native species and this number is likely to grow. Serious declines towards extinction are underway in some species, and broader ecological consequences are expected. Myrtle Rust is likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance protected under national environment law, including listed threatened species and ecological communities, wetlands of international importance, world heritage properties, and national heritage places.
The Plant Biosecurity CRC, in collaboration with the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program developed the draft Action Plan to guide a coordinated national environmental response to Myrtle Rust. The Plan was prepared in consultation with a wide range of experts and stakeholders.
The goals of the draft Action Plan are to minimise declines and extinctions of native species due to Myrtle Rust, and minimise decline in the integrity and function of their host ecosystems.
The draft Action Plan is supported by Myrtle Rust reviewed: The impacts of the invasive plant pathogen Austropuccinia psidii on the Australian environment (R.O. Makinson 2018), a valuable resource to be read in conjunction with the draft Action Plan.
The ‘Myrtle Rust in Australia: A draft Action Plan’ and ‘Myrtle Rust reviewed: The impacts of the invasive plant pathogen Austropuccinia psidii on the Australian environment (R.O. Makinson 2018)’ can be downloaded from our web-site (http://www.apbsf.org.au/apbsf-projects/).
The Foundation has taken on the leadership of the Plan following the closure of the PBCRC. We have received a range of compelling responses to the online consultation and are now working through the best way to finalise the Plan. We will then seek support from all Australian government’s to resource and co-ordinate the full implementation of the Plan.