|The fight against Phytophthora dieback
in Western Australia
Phytophthora dieback is the biggest threat to biodiversity in
Western Australia and has now spread throughout the southwest
from Eneabba to Esperance.
Red shows current dieback infestation of remnant vegetation across the south west of Australia.
Phytophthora dieback is a deadly introduced pathogen of plants. Scientifically
known as Phytophthora cinnamomi, it is classified as a water mould belonging
to the new ancestral kingdom Chromista.
The pathogen is unusual as it has animal, fungal and plant characteristics.
Phytophthora dieback lives in soil and attacks roots of many native plants.
It also destroys animal habitats and threatens whole communities.
Banksia communities are particularly susceptible. Dieback can turn a flourishing
woodland into a sparse sedge-land.
There is no effective cure for Phytophthora Dieback but its spread can be
controlled. Humans are the main culprits for spreading dieback, especially
over large distances. Dieback can slowly move itself through autonomous
spread by swimming in the water in the soil and growing through plant
material. Some animals may be associated with its localised spread. People
can vector dieback by carrying soil and plant material over vast areas.
We can minimise Phytophthora Dieback’s spread through improved community awareness
planning and building resources to protect threatened areas.
Project Dieback is a Natural Resource Management (NRM) initiative
allowing community, government and industry to work together to
take on this challenge.