Rare plant discovered in South East Forest near Bombala

Rare plants that have not been seen in more than a decade have been rediscovered by four botanists in South East Forests National Park near Bombala.

The group of plant scientists from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the Australian National Herbarium embarked on the field expedition last month and were delighted to find four threatened species.

Dr Keith McDougall Senior Threatened Species Officer at OEH said the trip involved seven hours of trekking through steep rocky gorges and dense undergrowth in a remote part of the national park.

“We were absolutely thrilled to find these plants, particularly the endangered Genoa River Correa that has not been seen in decades,” Dr McDougall said .

“We set out hoping we would re-discover these plants but to actually seeing them thriving in the wild was very exciting.

“We assessed the health of the plants, monitored for potential threats and collected seed to build an insurance population,” Dr McDougall said.

Joe McAuliffe from the Australian National Botanic Gardens said the Genoa River Correa was found close to the river in a moist, shady spot.

“Despite the species not being recorded in NSW since 1999, we were able to clearly identify it from its greenish tubular flowers and oval-shaped, hairy leaves,” Mr McAuliffe said.

“Cuttings were taken from the plants and will be grown at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, establishing a living collection and essentially insurance against extinction,” Mr McAuliffe said.

The two day field trip also had a historical element said Dave Albrecht from the Australian National Herbarium.

“We trekked close to the steps travelled by the famous botanist Baron von Mueller, who discovered the Genoa River Correa in 1860,” Mr Albrecht said.

“We stayed overnight at the same cattle station in Nungatta where Mueller visited more than 150 years ago and looked out over the same landscape.

Dean Ansell, Senior Project Officer at the NPWS said collaboration among organisations is vital for today’s conservation work.

“It is our collective responsibility to work together and in this case, get our hands dirty, to try to secure these species’ survival.

“We’re planning on returning to the sites in Spring 2017 to continue exploring and to set up a monitoring program for the long-term protection of these species.

Species re-discovered in the region during this expedition included the Genoa River Correa, Deane’s Boronia, Pomaderris Cotoneaster and Nalbaugh Nematolepis.

The expedition and associated conservation work is funded by the NSW Government’s $100 Million Saving our Species program that aims to secure NSW’s threatened species in the wild for the next 100 years.

Originally Published at http://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/4674329/retracing-steps-of-famous-botanist-uncovers-rare-plant-near-bombala/

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