Myrtle RustIs Myrtle Rust present in Tasmania?
What is the current status of the Myrtle Rust outbreak on the Mainland?
What is the biosecurity risk to Tasmania?
What is Tasmania’s response to the Myrtle Rust outbreak on the Mainland?
What is Myrtle Rust?
What does Myrtle Rust look like?
What do we know about Myrtle Rust?
What are the major gaps in our knowledge about Myrtle Rust?
What should Tasmanians be doing to minimise the risk of Myrtle Rust?
A mature infection has distinctive yellow spores
Myrtle Rust has not been detected in Tasmania. When it was discovered on the mainland, Tasmania introduced an emergency import ban on all plants susceptible to Myrtle Rust to minimise the risk of it getting here. Also, a new Import Requirement has been established that requires all other nursery stock imports to meet requirements that minimise the risk of Myrtle Rust “hitching a ride” into Tasmania on non-host species.
The spread of Myrtle Rust on the mainland has increased the risk to Tasmania. CSIRO modelling indicates that this pest could successfully establish in Tasmania, in the north and north east in particular. As a result, we are backing our import restrictions with an awareness campaign, aimed at bushwalkers and others who visit our natural environment, so they know what Myrtle Rust looks like and what to do if they think have see it.
The outbreak was first identified at a NSW plant nursery in April 2010. In late December 2010, the outbreak was discovered to have crossed the NSW border into southern Queensland and has since been detected in North Queensland as well.
The initial response in NSW and Queensland was to try and contain the outbreak with the intention of eradicating it. By late spring 2010, intensive surveillance and tracing found the outbreak had spread significantly, including into bushland, and it was agreed nationally that eradication was no longer technically feasible in either NSW or Queensland. As a result, the response in both states is now to try and contain further spread of the outbreak and manage it within quarantine zones.
Under Tasmania’s Biosecurity Strategy, biosecurity risk is the product of two factors – the likelihood of the pest or disease reaching Tasmania and the consequences for the State if it were to do so. As outlined above, there is currently insufficient scientific knowledge to assess whether Myrtle Rust could successfully establish in a cooler climate such as ours, although CSIRO modelling suggests the warmer areas of Tasmania (i.e. forests and bush in the north and east) are at significant risk. On the second factor, the consequences for the Tasmanian environment and for some of our plant-related industries of a Myrtle Rust outbreak could be very serious – given that eucalypts and other Tasmanian icon plants are among the known susceptible species.
The developments on the mainland mean that the risk of Myrtle Rust entering Tasmania has increased.
Given the above, Tasmania is acting decisively to minimise the risk of this pest getting here. Other non-affected states are adopting regulatory approaches suited to their state or territory. .
Our immediate action, when the NSW outbreak was first announced, was to prohibit the importation of Myrtaceae plants and plant products from the mainland, except where the importer could demonstrate their mainland supplier posed no Myrtle Rust risk. That prohibition remains in place.
When the decision was taken to move away from eradication to containment/management within quarantine zones in both NSW and Queensland, there was a scaling down of Myrtle Rust surveillance in both those states. As a result of this, together with the detection of the pest in Victoria, we consider there is an increased risk of spores coming into Tasmania on non-Myrtaceae plants. As a consequence of that, in January 2011, Tasmania also required all non-Myrtaceae nursery stock imports to be treated with a fungicide capable of killing Myrtle Rust spores. In practice, some mainland nurseries already have an Interstate Certificate of Assurance 2 (ICA29) which means they already treat all their export stock with that fungicide so there will be no practical change for them. In December 2011 DPIPWE introduced a new import requirement (IR38) to address a broad range of biosecurity risks posed by nursery stock. This included a range of options available to importers to meet import requirements.
DPIPWE has been carrying out surveillance of Myrtaceae plants in nurseries, on road verges and other likely sites for any signs of Myrtle Rust. So far, no Myrtle Rust has been found in Tasmania. Quarantine Tasmania has also increased its activities at the border to focus on, in particular, people who have been bushwalking recently in NSW. For the 2011/12 summer period (when any case of Myrtle Rust would be much more visible), an awareness campaign has been aimed at bushwalkers and others who visit forests or bush, including the distribution of over 3,000 wallet sized cards that help people identify Myrtle Rust while they are in the bush.
Formal notices to establish the prohibition on the import Myratceae plants and plant products and the requirement to treat non-Myrtaceae nursery stock with fungicide have been published.
Myrtle Rust (Uredo rangelii) is a fungus that can have a serious effect on a large number of plant species.
Myrtle Rust is a single rust fungus species within the Guava/Eucalyptus Rust family. There are some significant gaps in the scientific knowledge about Myrtle Rust. It appears to behave in a similar, but not identical, way to other Guava/Eucalyptus Rusts.
There is ongoing research to gain a better understanding of Myrtle Rust.
There is a lot of good information about Myrtle Rust on the NSW DPI Myrtle Rust website.
Please refer to the Myrtle Rust fact sheet:
Research being carried out as part of the response to the current outbreak in NSW shows that:
Everyone who has been bushwalking in NSW or Queensland should clean their hiking gear before bringing it into or back into Tasmania. In addition visitors to parks, gardens or nurseries where Myrtle Rust may occur should ensure their clothing or any equipment is clean.
Tasmanian nurseries and other retailers selling plants have a key role to play in minimising the Myrtle Rust risk. Their most important task is to ensure that their staff all have some idea what Myrtle Rust looks like and to keep an eye out for it when handling stock. Pictures of Myrtle Rust are on the NSW DPI Myrtle Rust website. In addition, they should ensure their hygiene standards are up to scratch.
If you go bushwalking in Tasmania, please carry with you one of our ID cards that show what Myrtle Rust looks like. You can also get printed cards from your walking club, from Quarantine Tasmania or from the Biosecurity and Plant Health branch – contact details below. Please keep an eye out for the distinctive yellow or orange spores on any Myrtaceae plants. If you see any such signs, contact DPIPWE's 24/7 number, 1800 084 881 . If you are out of mobile phone range, don’t take a sample of the plant that appears infected. Instead, take a note of your location (GPS is ideal, but simple directions as to how to find the plant will be good) and, if possible, tie a ribbon or otherwise mark the affected plant. Then contact 1800 084 881 as soon as you can.
If you are keen gardener, keep an eye out for the distinctive yellow or orange spores on any Myrtaceae plants. If you see any such signs, contact 1800 084 881. Don’t take samples or try to bring the affected plant into our labs.
For further information about Myrtle Rust, refer to our Myrtle Rust fact sheet or contact DPIPWE’s Biosecurity and Plant Health branch on 1300 368 550 or via email Biosecurity.email@example.com.
For information about the quarantine requirements relating to plant imports, contact Quarantine Tasmania on (03) 6233 3352 (or 1800 084 881 for the quarantine service in your state), fax on (03) 6234 6785 or via email Quarantine.Enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au.
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