NEW PLANT SPECIES FOUND

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - FRONT PAGE -

Af­ter years of sci­en­tific in­ves­ti­ga­tion, botanists have con­firmed the dis­cov­ery of a new species of aca­cia tree in Bin­ningup.

Work­ers made the dis­cov­ery by chance dur­ing ex­ten­sive re­gen­er­a­tion work car­ried out around the Wa­ter Cor­po­ra­tion’s South­ern Sea­wa­ter De­sali­na­tion Plant back in 2015.

The Wa­ter Cor­po­ra­tion com­mis­sioned botanists Geoff Cock­er­ton and Kevin Thiele in 2016 and 2017 to search for other pop­u­la­tions of the aca­cia to con­firm the new species, with the search stretch­ing through the bush­lands from Yanchep to Al­bany.

Wa­ter Cor­po­ra­tion South West Re­gional Man­ager John Janssen said botanists made an­other ef­fort to find the last piece of the puz­zle in Fe­bru­ary 2018, and con­firm be­yond doubt that the Bin­ningup plants were a new species, rather than a vari­a­tion.

“While driv­ing through the Har­vey re­gion the botanists had two sep­a­rate chance sight­ings of plants with sim­i­lar char­ac­ters as the Bin­ningup aca­cia grow­ing on the side of the road,” Mr Janssen said.

“These chance sight­ings were a sig­nif­i­cant break­through as it proved the plants found at Bin­ningup were not a vari­a­tion of an ex­ist­ing species due to the lo­cal con­di­tions, and provided fur­ther ev­i­dence needed to con­firm the pres­ence of a new species.”

Mr Janssen said a sub­mis­sion to the WA Her­bar­ium was made in July, 2018, and in Septem­ber Aca­cia sp. Bin­ningup was of­fi­cially recog­nised and named as a new species.

“We are thrilled to have played a part in the dis­cov­ery of this new species near our plant, as it il­lus­trates the thriv­ing bio­di­ver­sity we want to nur­ture right on our doorstep,” Mr Janssen said.

De­sali­na­tion plant en­v­i­ron- men­tal en­gi­neer Grant Grif­fith said the botanists’ work at the site had re­vealed other dis­cov­er­ies which could lead to more new species be­ing de­clared.

“Out of this work they think there could be five or six new species,” he said. He said one of the Aca­cia sp. Bin­ningup plants could be more than 100 years old.

Har­vey shire pres­i­dent Ta­nia Jack­son, who is also a mem­ber of the de­sali­na­tion plant’s Com­mu­nity Ref­er­ence Group, said the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the site and on­go­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal work in the dune sys­tem near the plant had im­proved the qual­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity of the area.

Pic­ture: Jon Gell­weiler

South­ern Sea­wa­ter De­sali­na­tion plant en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer Grant Grif­fith shows Wa­ter Cor­po­ra­tion South West Re­gional Man­ager John Janssen the newly dis­cov­ered species Aca­cia sp. Bin­ningup.

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