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Investigation seeks helpers for Atlas of Living Australia hunt

Wimmera nature lovers can get involved in an Australia-wide native plant hunt to learn how vegetation suffers or recovers after flood, fire, climate change, human activity and other threats.

The Wimmera landscape is often subject to fire and occasionally flood and is home to vast native plant population. Some of the species are ‘priority plants’ identified in an Atlas of Living Australia program Flora Connections program.

The CSIRO, Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and Western Sydney University, SWU, is supporting the project -— aimed at harnessing the passion of amateur flora groups and citizen scientists to help monitor recovery. 

Atlas of Living Australia’s Dr Erin Roger said the project was important work, with the cost of environmental events impacting many important native plants as well as people and wildlife.

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“As extreme fires and floods become more common, plants, which are vital to keeping our ecosystems healthy, also need to recover,” Dr Roger said. 

“Through Flora Connections, we want to better understand how our native plants are recovering post-fire and flood, and that means boots on the ground.”

WSU project principal scientist and Associate Professor Rachael Gallagher said the project aimed to connect community knowledge with government and researchers to help develop an up-to-date understanding of how plant species had fared after extreme events. 

“Plants are at the core of our ecosystems and protecting them makes sense given the huge role they play in human existence,” Dr Gallagher said.

“There’s a wealth of knowledge in the hands of the bushwalkers of Australia and we’re keen to harness it to bring much-needed data about how plants respond to extreme events to the surface.”   

Dr Roger said volunteer amateur botanists could visit to access information, documentation forms and other material to help them gather and submit the data. 

“After the information is submitted to Flora Connections, it will then be made available by the Atlas of Living Australia, our national biodiversity data infrastructure, which will be of huge value to support the science of bushfire impacts on plants,” she said.

The Federal Government published a ‘priority plant’ list of more than 450 species in need of urgent management intervention to support recovery after 2019-2020 bushfires.

This list also includes plants that are under assessment for recognition as threatened species under the EPBC Act as of March 2022.

Priority species under investigation that occur in the Wimmera include the white star-bush, Asterolasia asteriscophora, which historically occurs in the Grampians, spiked sour-bush, Chortetrum spicatusm, recorded in the Little Desert.

The entire April 27, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire April 27, 2022 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!