Rare trees found in Isis district
Endangered tamarind population found on Isis Mill property
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.”
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.