Dell, B., Hardy, G.E.St.J. and Vear, K. (2005) History of Phytophthora cinnamomi management in Western Australia. In: Calver, M.C., Bigler-Cole, H., Bolton, G., Dargavel, J., Gaynor, A., Horwitz, P., Mills, J. and Wardell-Johnston, G., (eds.) A Forest Conscienceness: Proceedings 6th National Conference of the Australian Forest History Society Inc. Millpress Science Publishers, Rotterdam, pp. 391-406.
Phytophthora cinnamomi has recently been recognized as a key threatening process to biodiversity in Australia. The impact of this introduced microscopic water mould on destruction of forests and heath land communities has been observed since 1921 in southwestern Australia. It took over 40 years for the causal agent to be identified in 1964. Over the next 40 years, State Government Departments formulated policy and implemented management measures to deal with the problem. These measures have changed greatly over time as new knowledge about the host range and extent of the epidemic have become available. Unfortunately, the pathogen had spread over large areas of estate prior to the identification of the causal agent and the development of a management response. The spread of P.cinnamomi into significant areas of the conservation estate, including biodiversity hotspots, highlights the urgency of ensuring that Phytophthora dieback and its management is adequately resourced and is underpinned by appropriate research and communication programs.
This review describes the main historical events leading up to the formulation of the 2004 State Phytophthora Dieback Response Framework. These include: quarantining half a million hectares of State Forest in 1976/7 in order to map the extent of the disease and implement hygiene measures; developing policy and management practices for the conservation estate; the acceptance by the Hon. Minister for the Environment in 1996 of the 33 recommendations in the WA Dieback Review Panel Report; the establishment of community based Dieback Working Groups; the preparation of the National Threat Abatement Plan in 2001, and in 2004 the development of National Best Practices Management Guidelines and a risk assessment methodology suitable for national adoption. In spite of these actions, much remains to be done. Flora and fauna remain threatened by the continued expansion and impact of Phytophthora dieback. We have few tools available to reduce the extension, spread and impact of the pathogen and the diseases it causes. The community needs to be better informed of the direct and indirect impacts this disease has had on individual species and ecosystem function and health, and encouraged to take greater ownership of an environmental problem that encompasses all types of land tenure. Recent developments in policy development are encouraging but need to be underpinned by much further research and collaboration.