Rare trees found in Isis district

En­dan­gered tamarind pop­u­la­tion found on Isis Mill property

Isis Town and Country - - FRONT PAGE - By MELINDA BRAD­FORD

A BOTANIST has dis­cov­ered a new pop­u­la­tion of an en­dan­gered tree species grow­ing in the Isis district, which is thought to be one of the rarest trees in Aus­tralia.

Peter Brown made the re­mark­able dis­cov­ery while do­ing his univer­sity doc­tor­ate on the Isis tamarind or alec­tryon ram­i­florus.

Ac­cord­ing to the tree ex­pert, the Isis tamarind is a species of the orig­i­nal Isis scrub and has only been found in small ar­eas near Childers and Cordalba.

Un­til re­cently, it was thought there were just a few plants re­main­ing, but Mr Brown has dis­cov­ered a thriv­ing new pop­u­la­tion of more than 300 plants on a property be­long­ing to Isis Su­gar Mill.

The species is listed as en­dan­gered un­der state and Com­mon­wealth leg­is­la­tion, and is on the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture Red List.

Mr Brown said when the species was ini­tially listed as en­dan­gered in 1997, the to­tal known pop­u­la­tion com­prised of just a small num­ber of plants lo­cated in five sep­a­rate pop­u­la­tions in rem­nant na­tive veg­e­ta­tion patches.

“By the time I started my re­search in early 2013, the num­ber had de­clined to about 24 trees spread over six patches, and some of them are in ter­ri­ble shape with weeds, ero­sion and so on,” he said.

Mr Brown blamed large-scale clear­ing for agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment as the rea­son be­hind the tree’s im­pend­ing demise.

“The whole dry vine rain­for­est veg­e­ta­tion sys­tem is un­der crit­i­cal threat.

“There is very lit­tle left. If this one species is lost, it will be an in­di­ca­tion of even­tual demise of the oth­ers too,” he said.

“Sure, the orig­i­nal veg­e­ta­tion was hacked down be­tween 1870 and 1900 to ac­com­mo­date cane and other crops, but we didn’t have the en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and knowl­edge then. Plus we have the wis­dom of hind­sight.”

But the lat­est dis­cov­ery is hope that the species may live on.

“On the other hand, if we can res­cue it and re­ha­bil­i­tate it, the method we use could be ap­plied to the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of as­so­ci­ated trees and shrubs in this sys­tem.” he said.

“The Isis tamarind was thought to be choosy about where it grows, but I’ve found that it is not.”

PHOTO: ZACH HOGG BUN210114BOT1

SPEAK FOR THE TREES: Botanist Peter Brown is con­duct­ing a three year study into one of the rarest tree species in Aus­tralia, the en­dan­gered Alec­tryon Ram­i­florus.

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