Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Centre for Plant Conservation 2010-2011

Bob Makinson - Conservation Botanist

Much of the Conservation Botanist’s activity this year concerned the newly arrived plant pathogen Myrtle Rust (Uredo rangelii). In a little over 18 months, this South American fungus has shown an ability to infect nearly 100 Australian native plant species of the family Myrtaceae in the wild or in cultivation, with some species more severely affected than others. Myrtle Rust is now widely naturalised over much of the NSW coast and parts of south-east Queensland, and is recognised as a very serious threat to our native Myrtaceae and the ecosystems in which they occur (and often dominate).

The Conservation Botanist contributed to the development of a Key Threatening Process determination (under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995) for exotic rusts on Myrtaceae, which remains the State’s most comprehensive assessment to date of the conservation implications of Myrtle Rust’s arrival. Subsequently, the focus of work shifted to the development and distribution of other information resources and educational and advisory material, in close conjunction with the Trust’s plant pathologists and experts in other agencies. This culminated in the delivery (June 2011) of ten full-day courses on Myrtle Rust in regional NSW centres, run by the Australian Network for Plant Conservation in association with the Trust. These courses attracted 270 people from a variety of agencies and industry and community groups. This remains the only publicly accessible face-to-face training on this issue developed to date.

On other fronts, the Conservation Botanist contributes information on threatened species and threat processes to a variety of clients and stakeholders, including other sections of the Office of Environment and Heritage, the NSW Scientific Committee, other agencies, ecological consultants, and community groups. The Conservation Botanist at the end of 2010 completed the statutory maximum of two terms as the Trust’s nominee to the NSW Scientific Committee.













 NPWS team setting up monitoring point
NPWS team setting up monitoring point, during phase of attempted eradication of Myrtle Rust, Wamberal Lagoon Nature Reserve, December 2010. Photo: Bob Makinson

Bob Makinson during fieldwork
Bob Makinson during fieldwork in Western Australia.
Photo: W McTaggart