New populations of Australian plants found following Bush Blitz

A new location for the rare Australian species Eucalyptus magnificata has been discovered in the Oxley Wild Rivers region in NSW, thanks to the latest Bush Blitz. Tim Collins from the University of New England (who just happens to be working on this species) couldn’t believe his eyes as we came across the plants.

The species is only found in the northern tablelands of NSW, so another population of the plant is a very exciting discovery.

We also collected cuttings  of more than 15 rare and regionally significant species including Prostanthera and Leionema – two species found only in this area. These two species are not known to be in cultivation or seed banks, so being able to collect them for cultivation was a step towards an ex-situ backup for the wild population.

Leionema sp. aff. gracile | This highly restricted species is known only from a single, small population

Prostanthera sp.aff. howelliae was discovered by Patrick Lupica in 2007

The samples were taken back to the Australian National Botanic Gardens to grow on, with the aim of establishing a backup population that may provide future generations of plants for ‘re-wilding’ or re-introduction which means greater security for the species.  By working in partnership with NSW National Parks and Wildlife staff and Bush Blitz participants, we were able to demonstrate the specialised non-seed collection methods that they may be able to use in the future where seed is scarce or not available.

The project gave us a great opportunity to build relationships with the land managers which means we’ll  be able to keep working on threatened species recovery together in the future.

In addition to the discoveries, it’s great to see Bush Blitz opening the door to longer term outcomes to benefit the biodiversity of the Oxley Wild Rivers.

David Taylor,  Australian National Botanic Gardens

Bush Blitz is a partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia. The innovative program sends scientists out into the field to record the fascinating plants and animals in conservation areas across Australia.