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Conserving the Macquarie Island Cushion Plant

The Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens (RTBG) have been working on preserving a critically endangered and vital part of the Macquarie Island ecosystem, the Cushion Plant. Growing in ferocious conditions 1545 kilometres southeast of Tasmania, the Cushion Plant population on the island has been dropping dramatically since 2010, for unknown reasons. A horticultural botanist from Tasmania, Natalie Tapson, spent five weeks on Macquarie Island between October and December 2013, managing to increase the collection of potted Cushion Plants to 54. This ex situ collection will help preserve the genetic diversity of the species, and maintain a healthy population to prevent against future dieback.

Make sure to check out the article about this work published in the latest edition of Australasian Plant Conservation, March-May 2014.

Macquarie Island landscape dominated by Cushion Plants (Photo: Micah Visoiu)