Bad News for these Aussie Plants

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The top 100 Australian plant species at risk of extinction have been identified by Threatened Species Recovery Hub research. 

University of Queensland researcher Dr Jennifer Silcock said three quarters of Australia’s threatened species were plants.

“Knowing which plants are at greatest risk gives us a chance to save them before it is too late,” Dr Silcock said.

“This list of Australia’s top 100 imperilled plants will help conservation managers prioritise where to direct efforts to prevent extinctions.

“Without action future generations will not have the blue top sun-orchid, pretty beard orchid, hairy geebung, yellow mountain bell or matchstick banksia.”

Urbanisation was the leading threat resulting in 22 species on the list, while 19 species are on the list due to inappropriate fire regimes. 

“Many plants only remain in small isolated patches, which usually miss out on a lot of important natural processes like regular fires, meaning that fire-dependent species are not regenerating,” Dr Fensham said.

“Introduced plant diseases like phytophthora and myrtle rust are pushing 18 of the plants on the list towards extinction.”

“We are still learning the best way to control these plant diseases –research is underway and will be vital to minimising the impact of these diseases on Australia’s unique flora.”

Historic and ongoing habitat loss is the major threat to Australia’s plant species.

Other threats increasing the risk of plant extinctions include grazing and trampling by livestock, native and feral animals like rabbits, climate change, weedy grasses and mining.

“The good news is that all of the species on the list can be saved – we have the techniques required, we just need the commitment,” Dr Fensham said.

“Seventy-one of the species are already on the national list of threatened species, for the remaining species applying for formal conservation listing will be an important step in their protection.”

“The fate of these species depends upon support and action from governments and the community.”

“A bonus will be that the actions required to save these species will also benefit many other vulnerable plant species.”

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