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Plant Health Australia

Plant Health Australia and the Myrtle Rust Transition to Management Program

Plant Health Australia is the national coordinator of the government-industry partnership for plant biosecurity in Australia. As a not-for-profit company, Plant Health Australia services the needs of Members and independently advocates on behalf of the national plant biosecurity system. The Australian Seed Bank Partnership is working with Plant Health Australia on the Myrtle Rust Project.

Myrtle Rust Project

There is significant concern regarding the current threat posed to Australia’s native vegetation by Myrtle Rust. This fungal disease affects the Myrtaceae family of plants that includes Australian natives such as eucalypts, tea-trees and bottlebrushes. It is spread by wind, animals and human activity and can result in anything from the deterioration of plant health to plant death and has the potential to impact on nationally significant species, ecosystems and biodiversity. From July 2011 to June 2013 Plant Health Australia is administering the Australian Government-funded National Myrtle Rust Transition to Management Program and is providing the secretariat for the Myrtle Rust Transition to Management Group. The Australian Seed Bank partnership is working collaboratively with Plant Health Australia and the Myrtle Rust Transition to Management Group to progress a transition from eradication of Myrtle Rust to management of the disease as it becomes naturalised and establishes itself in various ecological niches across Australia.

Seed and ex situ collections have an important role to play to safeguard against the permanent loss of native species. Ex situ collections also have a crucial role in supporting integrated conservation management, and science is critical to biodiversity conservation, landscape restoration and strengthening ecosystem resilience in Australia.