Over 200 native plant species of Queensland’s tropical north are under threat from a fungal disease that was only discovered in Australia two years ago, a parliamentary inquiry has been told.
The House Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and the Arts has released its second interim report into Australia’s biodiversity in a changing climate.
The report details the committees extensive site visits to parts of Victoria, NSW, Kakadu in the NT and far north Queensland.
Myrtle rust is thought to have come from South America or Mexico and infects the leaves of susceptible plants by producing spore-filled lesions.
IT affects plants such as lilly pilly, tea tree and bottle brush.
The committee was told that there is little possibility of preventing the spread of the disease because it is a windborne pathogen.
Its report has noted that the full impacts of myrtle rust on the tropical rainforests of Queensland are unknown.
In March the committee heard about the devastating effect the spread of myrtle rust was having on native plant species in New South Wales.
“This highlights the need for cooperation between all levels of government on effective invasive species management,” committee chair Tony Zappia said.
Although the Committee is still in the process of gathering evidence to the inquiry, it is expected that this second interim report will be the last update on the inquiry’s progress before the final report and recommendations are released next year.