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Rare mallee shrub reintroduced to Wimmera

Article Category  Ag and Environment
Date Published  Friday, June 2 2017
Author  DELWP

Rare mallee shrub reintroduced to Wimmera
The replanting of 178 Forked Spyridium on Friday 2 June near Nurcoung marks a long journey back to the Wimmera for this threatened species.

The shrub was replanted on a Greening Australia property that forms part of a key wildlife corridor between the Little Desert National Park and the Arapiles/Tooan State Park. This translocation is part of a joint project between the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Biodiversity Team and Greening Australia.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Program Manager Healthy Landscapes, Pauline Rudolph said that “the plants were propagated at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s Melbourne Gardens Nursery from 450 wild-collected seeds that were gathered from locations on private property in May 2015.”

“The seeds were stored at the Victorian Conservation Seedbank until they were sown in January 2016 by Nursery staff and in May 2016, the seedlings were transferred to tubes for cultivation until the conditions were suitable for translocation”, Ms Rudolph said.

“The purpose of the release is to increase the population of the Forked Spyridium within its known range.

“The Forked Spyridium (Spyridium furculetum) is a very rare shrub that grows to about 1.6 metres tall; it has dark green-grey leaves with small, yellow flowers surrounded by pale grey-green to white floral leaves.

“It is found in mallee country and there are now fewer than 500 plants in three wild populations.

“By translocating these 178 plants back to the wild, we’re able to reduce the risk to current populations from the threats of drought, fire and land clearing.

“Re-establishing these plants in the wild will also increase our knowledge of the species over time as well as increase genetic diversity and strength of the species.”

Greening Australia’s Wimmera Ecologist, Jess Gardner said that “the Greening Australia property where the replanting will occur was purchased in 2008 as part of our commitment to realising the landscape-scale connectivity vision, Habitat 141o.”

“Nine years on, this 130-hectare property has been revegetated via a voluntary carbon offset program with electricity provider Simply Energy,” Ms. Gardner said.

“Greening Australia is committed to continue pest plant and animal control works to protect what will be the largest reinstated population of the threatened Forked Spyridium.

“I am excited to be working with DELWP’s Biodiversity Team to be able to return to the site and re-introduce further species now that many of the threats to biodiversity have been reduced.”

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s Acting Director and Chief Executive, Chris Cole said that “the Gardens is committed to working with partner agencies to support conservation efforts in the wild in the preservation of rare and threatened species.”

“The sharing of our combined skills improves outcomes for threatened species while refining and exploring new approaches to plant conservation,” Mr Cole said.

“Melbourne Gardens Nursery staff regularly propagate plants from seed stored at the Victorian Conservation Seedbank for translocation to the wild for the purposes of regenerating threatened species.

“This week’s Forked Spyridium planting is the first attempt to re-establish plants under a formal Translocation Plan for Threatened Species.

“Staff from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria made an unsuccessful attempt 25 years ago to replant this species from cuttings.

“Seed-grown plants generally produce better root systems, so there is confidence that the new plantings will succeed.”

Image source: DELWP Grampians on Facebook.

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