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QTPA Member Alert | Myrtle rust in Queensland (24 May 2012)

Current situation update

Myrtle rust detected in further sites in Far North Queensland

There have been detections of myrtle rust in a number of significant new sites in Far North Queensland since the last e-newsletter, including: the Mossman Gorge section of Daintree National Park; the Barron Gorge and Kuranda National Parks; the Smithfield Conservation Park; a residential garden in Mareeba; and the Herberton Range State Forest west of Atherton on the Atherton Tableland. These recent detections confirm that myrtle rust is now established and widespread in Far North Queensland.

Biosecurity Queensland is continuing to work with key stakeholders in the area, including Cairns Regional Council, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, to help implement strategies to manage the impacts and minimise further spread.

A joint Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry/Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing media release was distributed on 14 May 2012 to alert the public in Far North Queensland to these new detections, advise ways they can help to minimise the risk of spread, particularly into other national parks and World Heritage areas, and to seek their assistance in tracking the disease’s spread, host range and impacts.

Myrtle rust represents a significant risk to North Queensland’s national parks and World Heritage areas, including the Wet Tropics and islands on the Great Barrier Reef, due to the hot and humid climate which is ideal for disease development and spread, and the number of potential host species in the area. Many rainforest species are known to be susceptible to myrtle rust and there is increasing concern as to the long term impacts of the disease on the values of Queensland’s World Heritage areas.

Myrtle rust also represents a significant risk to the natural regeneration of the Wet Tropics and the resilience of these vegetation communities following significant cyclonic and other environmental events. While the impacts are yet to be determined, it will be critical to track and quantify the disease’s impacts on regeneration of the natural environment to the development of long term management strategies for the disease.

Myrtle rust detected in Mackay in Central Queensland

Myrtle rust has also recently been confirmed in a number of sites in Mackay in Central Queensland including a residential garden, the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens and the Mackay Natural Environment Centre. These detections represent a further extension of range of myrtle rust in Central Queensland following detections in Rockhampton and Yeppoon earlier this year. The detections were reported by the owner of the residential property and by Mackay Regional Council staff. Biosecurity Queensland is working with the council to help them implement appropriate disease management strategies.

Myrtle rust is expected to continue to spread north along the Queensland coast.

Myrtle rust situation in Victoria

Myrtle rust has now been detected in over 60 sites in Victoria. Detections in Victoria were initially limited to production nurseries and wholesale nursery outlets in and around metropolitan Melbourne but a number of recent detections have been in public parks and private residences. The disease has also now been detected in Shepparton, Ballarat, Tynong North and East Gippsland in regional Victoria.

Click the image to the right to view a larger, resizable map in a new window.

Victorian authorities have accepted that the disease is not containable or eradicable and are now working with affected industries and other stakeholder groups on preparations for future management of the disease in the state. Visit the ‘Myrtle Rust’ webpage on the Department of Primary Industries Victoria (DPIV) website for more information.

Queensland statistics

Below is an overview of the current situation in Queensland (as at 24 May 2012):

 Total number of known myrtle rust cases in Queensland  1517
 Total number of known affected (host) species in Queensland  128
 Total number of Council areas with myrtle rust cases  21
 Names of Council areas with myrtle rust cases Brisbane City
Bundaberg Regional
Cairns Regional
Fraser Coast Regional
Gladstone Regional
Gold Coast City
Gympie Regional
Ipswich City
Logan City
Mackay Regional
Moreton Bay Regional
Redland City
Rockhampton Regional
Scenic Rim Regional
South Burnett Regional
Sunshine Coast Regional
Tablelands Regional
Toowoomba Regional
Townsville City
Western Downs Regional
Whitsunday Regional












New hosts

There has only been one new host detected in Queensland since the last e-newsletter (24 April 2012). This was a hybrid of Corymbia ficifolia X C. ptychocarpa.

The Queensland host list is regularly updated and includes a susceptibility rating for each known host species. It can be viewed on the Biosecurity Queensland website.

Community and stakeholder engagement

Myrtle rust information sessions

Since the last e-newsletter, Myrtle Rust Program communications and community engagement staff have given presentations to:

  • Toowoomba West Bunnings Garden Club
  • Cooroy Rotary Club
  • Whitehill Garden Club
  • Moreton Bay Regional Council Nursery Volunteers (Burpengary)
  • Mt Gravatt Garden Club
  • Toowoomba Branch of the Society for Growing Australian Plants

They also staffed information stalls at the following events:

  • Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP) Autumn plant sale in Grovely, Brisbane
  • Toowoomba Gardenfest
  • Boonah Show
  • Ipswich Show

These presentations and events provide an opportunity for enthusiastic gardeners and nursery owners to learn more about myrtle rust.

Myrtle Rust Information Sessions will be held for the community and local businesses in Townsville on 6 June. Further sessions will be delivered throughout South East Queensland over the coming months.

If you would like more information about the Information Sessions or the Community Engagement program, please contact Riki Fulton on (07) 3117 8515.

Research and development snippets

Plant Health Australia Project Officer visits Myrtle Rust Program

The Myrtle Rust Program recently hosted a visit by Jenna Taylor, Project Officer from Plant Health Australia (PHA). During her visit Jenna received an overview of the program’s goals and objectives and how they are being delivered. She also visited each section of the program to get to gain an understanding of the different science and communications activities that are currently underway.

Jenna spent time at the Myrtle Rust Program’s headquarters at the Biosecurity Queensland Control Centre at Oxley, and the Ecosciences Precinct at Dutton Park where some of the Myrtle Rust Program research is carried out. She also visited some of the Program’s disease monitoring field sites in and around Brisbane.

Jenna got an insight into the Program’s communications and community engagement activities, and the public reporting, mapping and information systems the Program is using to track and monitor the disease’s geographic and host range in Queensland.

Myrtle Rust Research and Development Workshop to be held June 2012

The second national Myrtle Rust Research and Development Workshop will be held on 19-20 June at the Brisbane Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. The workshop will provide the ideal environment to discuss R&D activities, provide updates on current research projects and network with key researchers and stakeholders.

International myrtle rust expert, Dr Robert Hauff, Forest Health Coordinator from the Department of Lands and Natural Resources in Hawaii will be the keynote speaker.

Please contact Dr Suzy Perry on (07) 3117 8530 or email for further information.

Report myrtle rust

The impact and spread of myrtle rust is evidenced by the growing number of myrtle rust cases in Queensland. The Myrtle Rust Program is currently receiving on average around 20 reports a day of the disease.

Please continue to report sightings of myrtle rust – it contributes to our understanding of the geographic and host range of the disease in Queensland and will help us to develop more effective strategies for managing the disease and its potential impacts.