Project Dieback

Honey-possum J-Prefumo-sml

Photo by J. Prefumo

'Action and opportunities for protecting biodiversity assets'


overview July 2014

The relentless invasion of south west forests, woodlands and heaths by Phytophthora cinnamomi has reached the stage where an urgent and coordinated response on a landscape scale is required. Time is running out to protect the vulnerable plant species and high-value ecosystems of south Western Australia. Opportunities to protect these biodiversity assets will be lost unless immediate and targeted investments are made.

Project Dieback ‘Action and Opportunities for Protecting Biodiversity Assets’ is a State NRM Office funded project which focuses on reducing the risk of the human vectoring of Phytophthora cinnamomi within priority areas of Western Australia. The project runs from October 2012 to June 2015 and builds on previous research and on-ground works undertaken.


Phytophthora Dieback Management and Investment Framework

The project sets a State Phytophthora Dieback Management and Investment Framework (Framework) which identifies Priority Protection Areas (PPAs) representative of significant biodiverse ecosystems and communities vulnerable to Phytophthora Dieback within the south-west of WA for state level Phytophthora Dieback management and investment. The Framework details a logical process and tools to develop area specific management actions to prevent the further spread of Phytophthora Dieback at a landscape scale.

The Framework utilises a collaborative approach with the objective of ensuring a unified system of Dieback control resulting in landscape-scale management of the pathogen across all land tenures.  The Framework goal isto protect and conserve the most significant examples of biodiverse ecosystems and communities of Australia’s south west vulnerable to, or threatened by, Phytophthora Dieback, over the next 50 years.

Project Area

The project area covers the south-west of Australia with rainfall zones receiving 300-400 mm rainfall annually with high (50-80 mm) summer rainfall.  This includes the NRM regions of South Coast, South West Conservation Council, Northern Agricultural Region, Avon and Perth. 

Dieback Information Delivery and Management System (DIDMS)

Throughout the duration of the project, a greater understanding of the disease status of PPAs will be developed through field interpretation and mapping activities. All data will be complied into a central information database known as the Dieback Information Delivery and Management System (DIDMS) and will be available online from September 2014

On-Ground Works

On-ground works will be accomplished using existing management plan actions for regionally important areas in the first year, with the Framework guiding on-ground work for the remainder of the project through June 2015. The installation and upgrade of hygiene and access infrastructure into and surrounding PPAs will provide the cornerstone for improved management of these areas by reducing the risk of human vectoring.

Engaging stakeholders is a key action to the implementation and extension of the project. Raising the awareness of PPAs, the possible impact of Dieback on these areas and the responsibilities of management actions will take place throughout the project’s life.


Project Dieback Outputs 

  • State Dieback Management and Investment Framework completed
  • Four opportunities for partnered investments into implementing the framework identified
  • DIDMS available to stakeholders with more than 100 stakeholders and community members registered as users.
  • Data on 20 Priority Protection Areas (PPAs) collated in DIDMS
  • Training events held for 10 high risk operators in five PPAs
  • 30 community engagement events held across 10 PPAs
  • 10,000 information products distributed across 20 PPAs
  • 10 PPAs managed with the involvement of LGAs through the DWG 'Dieback Management Framework for LGAs'
  • Five existing risk reduction plans implemented
  • 100,000 ha managed through the implementation of existing risk reduction plans
  • Activities plan for years 2 and 3 identified using the framework to determine priority PPAs for management
  • Risk reduction planning initiated for the five highest ranked PPAs over 50,000 ha.
  • Phosphite treatment undertaken in two PPAs over 20 ha.
  • Rapid response eradication, control and containment of infestations within two PPAs initiated over 2 ha.
  • Disease status of 10,000 ha of 10 PPAs assessed
  • Hygiene and access infrastructure installed or upgraded in 10 PPAs



 Project Dieback Partners

Organisation RoleArea of Responsibility
South Coast NRM Project manager and project officers. Facilitating the development of the State Dieback Management and Investment Framework; implementing the framework through the assessment of PPAs, risk reduction planning, on-ground work, community engagement and training. Statewide coordination within project area. Officer West covers east of Frankland River across to the western bank of the Pallinup River and up to and including Shire of Cranbrook. Officer east covers the region east of Shire of Ravensthorpe to project area boundary.
Department  of Parks and Wildlife Assisting development of the State Management and Investment Framework; implementing the framework through the assessment of PPAs, risk reduction planning and on-ground work. DPaW managed land within project area.
Fitzgerald Biosphere Group (FBG) Implementing the framework plus community engagement and training. Shires of Ravensthorpe and Jerramungup.
Dieback Working Group (DWG) Implementing the framework plus developing information products, community engagement and the training of high-risk operators. Perth and South West regions.
GAIA Resources Developing State Dieback Management and Investment Framework with support from a steering committee and project partners. NA




South Coast NRM Project Dieback Team


Project Leader   Elissa Forbes

E Stewart

I've been working with South Coast NRM since 2012. My role as Project Leader includes the Project Dieback region and team members of south-west Western Australia, including NRM regions of South Coast, South West Conservation Council, Northern Agricultural Region, Avon and Perth.

Prior to Project Dieback, I worked on a number of invasive species projects for South Coast NRM. These projects included; Feral Pigs, Starlings and Red Card for the Fox and Rabbit. NRM has always been a passion and I have been working in this sector since 2007. I first worked for Perth Region NRM (then Swan Catchment Council) undertaking water quality analysis and reports for a number of local government agencies.

 Since moving "down south" my NRM roles have been diversified. Working for community groups such as the Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee and Oyster Harbour Catchment Group requires officers that have a broad knowledge and understanding of NRM.

A highlight for me so far has been coordinating and in collaboration with others, writing the Wilson Inlet Management Strategy 2013 – 2022.




Project Dieback Spatial Information Officer


Tilo Massenbauer




 I have worked for South Coast NRM as the Project Dieback spatial information officer since late January 2013. My primary role involves:


• Management and training delivery of the online Dieback Information Delivery and Management System (DIDMS).


• Assisting in dieback interpretation and mapping of key Priority Protection Areas.


• Manage dieback spatial data.


After growing up Esperance, I completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Natural Systems and Wildlife Management through the University of Queensland. I have worked in various environmental roles with local government, the Department of Environmental and Conservation and as a consultant over the past 15 years. My expertise is applying decision tools to define and unpack complex environmental processes affected by altered hydrology, plant disease and climate variability. In doing so, I use various technical disciplines such as strategic decision theory, botany, restoration ecology, wetland ecology, hydrology, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and sociology.





Project Implementation Officer (East)


Robyn Cail



 R Cail thumb coming soon...




Project Implementation Officer (West)


Rosie Smith



Rosie Smith thumb



Rosie Smith 



Originally from the UK, I have been lucky enough to call Australia home since 2001. I’m trained as an Ecologist with an additional background in NRM, environmental and outdoor education. A proud Denmark resident and mum of two small boys, I’m currently employed as a Project Officer with Project Dieback, tackling the biggest silent killer of WA’s biodiversity.


Previous to this you would have found me running volunteer conservation programs on Rottnest Island, working as a Landcare Coordinator, on threatened species conservation programs, leading group environmental education projects and with a few years farming thrown in to boot.


I’m constantly in awe of the biodiversity of this corner of the world and feel privileged to contribute to a resilient future for the region – and I love nothing more than experiencing it firsthand whenever I can.





Former Project Implementation Officer
(Northern Agricultural Region)
Donna Rayner


D Rayner P1010734

I am a Project Officer for Project Dieback based in the Northern Agricultural Region. My role is to increase the community’s awareness of Phytophthora dieback. I work closely with stakeholders to facilitate priority on-ground work and liaise with them to identify regional priority dieback protection areas through the Investment and Management Framework. I coordinate workshops and training for stakeholders involved in on-ground works such as Local government, construction and mining. I engage the community by presenting local dieback information at field days, festivals, schools and education events.

I have a research Masters degree and since then I have worked in biodiversity, sustainable land management and adult education. I have attained my experience across Australia working in tropical and sub-tropical environs with land managers and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. My interests include restoration ecology, disease management, invertebrate science and climate management




Project Partner Fitzgerald Biosphere Group
(Fitzgerald River region)
Anne Sparrow


A Sparrow thumb

... bio coming soon... 



Project Partner Dieback Working Group
(Perth region)
Katherine Sambrooks and bio coming soon...