While we have a strong ethos of ‘treading lightly’ when out in the bush, it’s all-too-easy to unwittingly spread weeds and diseases that can kill wildlife and destroy wild places.
Weeds, pests and diseases are major threats to Australia’s native plants and animals. They can hitch a ride on muddy hiking boots, in wet fishing gear or even hidden on the dirty rims of your car.
So what are these weeds, pests and diseases affecting NSW?
Here are the main ones we are looking out for, and they can be contained and prevented from spreading by all of us doing our part. Tread lightly!
– Chytrid is a fungal disease blamed for frog extinctions here and overseas. It is transmitted between frogs or through contact with contaminated water.
– Phytophthora is a root rot that destroys native plants. It is spread in mud and soil on walker’s boots, bikes and vehicles.
– Didymo, also known as ‘rock snot’, has yet made it to Australia but can be transported on wet fishing gear. It has devastated riverbed habitats in New Zealand.
– Myrtle Rust is a fungal disease which affects new growth in eucalyptus, melaleucas, bottlebrush and other Myrtaceae plants. The yellow/orange spores are easily spread on clothing, gear and vehicles.
– Weeds radically alter ecosystems, smothering and outcompeting native plants and robbing wildlife of food and shelter.
– Intestinal bugs picked up travelling don’t always show symptoms in some people but can spread by poor toileting near creeks and severely affect other people and wildlife.
Bushwalking NSW has just endorsed the latest version of the “Keep your gear clean in the wild” brochure by the Invasive Species Council. Stay up to date on the invasive species that are threatening our favourite bushwalking tracks by checking out their website www.invasives.org.au.