Heavy infection on a beach cherry. The disease is now widespread in the Gympie area.
Heavy infection on a beach cherry. The disease is now widespread in the Gympie area. Contributed

Invading disease reaches Gympie

IT is here, it is spreading and it threatens many aspects of the Gympie Region’s economy.

It also threatens the environment and a big part of our way of life.

And it can never be eradicated.

The potentially disastrous introduced fungal disease, myrtle rust, has been detected at several locations in the Gympie Region and is being closely watched by Biosecurity Queensland, it was revealed yesterday.

The disease, which can kill native plant species, including eucalypts, threatens Gympie Region’s pristine native forests, the honey industry, timber farmers, nursery operators, and people in the bush food and cut flower industry.

The disease can kill a range of Australian native plants and is now confirmed at more than 60 sites in Queensland, including the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Fraser Coast and South Burnett regions.

“It’s here and it is spreading quickly. It is not going to go away,” Gympie and District Landcare worker Steve Burgess said yesterday.

Myrtle rust has added to the headaches of the environmentally sensitive honey industry, with concerns expressed earlier this year about aggressive low-yield Asian honeybees displacing Australian hive bees and bringing with them the equally alarming varroa mite, which kills and weakens bee larvae.

Gunalda’s Kayle Findlay and Gympie’s Athol Craig expressed those concerns at the recent Gympie Show, but now have to worry also about a plant disease which affects flowering and thereby threatens the availability of the pollen and nectar on which native and commercial bee varieties depend.

Property owners who detect myrtle rust are obliged to report it to Biosecurity Queensland.

Gympie Times


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