Walker washdown station, Triabunna
Washdown station, Triabunna (photograph: Rosie Jackson)

Biosecurity

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​​​​​What is biosecurity?

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Biosecurity is the protection of industries, the environment and public well-being, health, amenity and safety from the negative impacts of pests, diseases and weeds.  DPIPWE's Biosecurity Tasmania​ is responsible for leading the biosecurity effort in Tasmania in partnership with the community and industry.  ​

​What c​an I do to help?​​

​Many different types of diseases can impact the health of our parks and reserves, as a minimun, we ask visitors to check, clean, disinfect and dry their outdoor gear.

  • Always start your trip with clean, dirt free dry gear
  • Remove dirt from your machinery, boots, camping and bushwalking gear, horses’ hooves and bike tyres
  • Obey track and road closed signs, these may have been closed to prevent the disease spreading
  • Keep to formed tracks, moving off infected tracks into uninfected areas will spread the disease
  • Where tracks are designated as one way, always walk in the direction indicated
  • Clean your gear before you leave your campsite. Brush the soil off your tent floor, pegs, toilet trowel etc.
  • Use wash down stations where provided

When you get home

  • Clean mud and dirt from your gear, vehicles, bikes and animals
  • It is vital that soil is washed straight into your septic or sewerage systems, where root rot will die​
    You can do this by washing over a trough or drain

​​For more information on preventing the spread of diseases, see Keeping it clean - A Tasmanian field manual to prevent the spread of freshwater pests and pathogens​.

​Phyto​ph​thora - root rot​

​An introduced plant pathogen called Phytophthora cinnamomi (pronounced Fy-TOFF-thora) is the cause of the deadly ‘root rot’ disease. Similar to a fungus, it lives inside the plant’s roots where it gradually consumes parts of its host. In the process, it blocks the uptake of water and nutrients within the plant. Some plants die rapidly, while others only show signs of disease during periods of stress such as drought. Root rot spreads between plants by root-to-root contact and by the release of microscopic spores that can move through the soil.​​

How is it spre​​ad?

When left alone, root rot spreads very slowly. However, it is easily spread by unsuspecting humans. People can give its deadly spores all kinds of opportunities to travel long distances and cross natural barriers. Hidden in mud, root rot can hitch a ride on vehicles, boots and foot wear, machinery, gaiters and tent pegs. Moving loads of soil or gravel can also spread root rot into new areas.​

What is at ​​risk?

Root rot is most likely to infect relatively open vegetation such as moorland, heathland and dry forests. It requires warm, moist soils to survive and is largely restricted to those areas below 700 m elevation, where the annual rainfall is greater than 600 mm. 

​​About 120 of Tasmania’s native plant species are known to be susceptible to root rot damage. Many of these are woody shrubs in the heath, pea and protea families. Root rot is a serious danger to at least 35 rare and threatened plants. In addition to the death of plants - creatures such as the threatened New Holland mouse may be affected due to the loss of habitat and plants for food. 

Root rot may also cause damage to private gardens, particularly those containing azaleas and rhododendrons. 

For further information, please see DPIPWE's Biosecurity Tasmania webpage.

Didymo - Rock Snot​

Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata), also called Rock Snot, is a freshwater algae that is widespread in the Northern Hemisphere. It is highly invasive and is considered a significant biosecurity pest in Australia. Didymo is a declared List A pest under the Plant Quarantine Act 1997 and its entry into Tasmania is prohibited. Its primary spread pathway is via contaminated fishing equipment. 

For further information, particularly if you are travelling to places where Rock Snot is present, please see DPIPWE's Biosecurity Tasmania webpage and Inland Fisheries Service Biosecurity webpage.

Chytrid fungus - frog disease

Chytrid infection has been devastating to frog species causing extinctions worldwide. The international trade of frogs probably brought the fungus to Australia from Africa. The disease has now been recorded in four regions in Australia - the east coast, southwest Western Australia, Adelaide, and more recently Tasmania. In mainland Australia chytrid has caused the extinction of one frog species, and has been associated with the extinction of three other species. In addition, the threatened species status of others frogs has worsened through severe declines in numbers.​

For further information, please see DPIPWE's Biosecurity Tasmania webpage​.​​

M​ucormycosis - platypus fungal disease

This fungal disease can kill platypus​es, with death arising from secondary infection and by affecting the animals' ability to maintain body temperature and forage efficiency. 

A​n unusual feature of this disease is that it affects platypuses only in Tasmania and not on the Australian mainland where the same pathogen infects frogs and toads. Although amphibians are susceptible to this fungus, and are likely to be the vector for originally transporting the pathogen to Tasmania, there are no records of Tasmanian frogs infected with the fungus. We do not know yet how the disease is spread amongst platypuses. A number of potential vectors exist that could possibly be transmitting the disease in Tasmania. Determining how the disease is spread, and what the vectors are is an area of renewed research involving collaboration between a number of Tasmanian ecologists, vets, and disease researchers.​

For further information, please see DPIPWE's Wildlife Management webpage​.