Sudden death: we're losing our snow gums and other eucalypts

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We’re losing our snow gums from the high country, and ribbon gums on the Monaro Plains near Cooma as well as other eucalypt species are declining.

An ABC news report by Melissa Clarke notes that ‘NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, has described eucalypt dieback as “one of the state’s most damaging ecological issues”’.

The Australian Alps cover less than one per cent of the mainland, and snow gums are a foundation species, that is, one that creates a habitat that supports other species. Loss of these trees also plays a role in the amount of water that flows into the Murray-Darling Basin. The main culprit here is a native wood borer (Phoracantha sp) aka the longicorn beetle, however a second beetle has also been found to be present. The beetles eat branches from the top down, leaving tracks in the bark that have the effect of ‘ringbarking’ trees.

Around $1.2 million in grants has been allocated for research into eucalypt dieback and 'citizen science' is also being asked to help with regard to sightings of longicorn beetle infestation in snow gums. If you see any signs of the beetle’s presence you can log photos online through the website Save Our Snow Gum, where additional information may also be found.

Photo: Jess Davis, ABC News

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