Myrtle Rust Practice Notes
Fungal Disease: Peer review for Auckland Council
Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the myrtle family. Plants in this family include New Zealand’s native pōhutukawa, manuka, kanuka, rātā, etc.
Myrtle rust poses a major threat to New Zealand’s native biodiversity and ecosystems. There is the possibility that some of these species could become regionally extinct, and their loss could have serious flow-on effects to ecosystem services like erosion control and nutrient cycling.
There is also considerable concern that this disease has the potential to severely impact environmental restoration projects as the key primary successional species, manuka and kanuka, are part of the myrtle plant family.
In 2018 the Auckland Council, as part of their Myrtle Rust response, prepared a technical guide for planting projects to mitigate the impacts of Myrtle Rust on restoration projects.
Scrub was engaged to provide a peer review of the Myrtle Rust Practice Notes, with particular focus on the ecological appropriateness of various proposed alternative approaches to pioneer planting. Along with the evaluation of alternative species in terms of seed ecology and commercial production constraints.
In addition to this Scrub worked with the Auckland Council to develop a seed collection protocol that would address the biosecurity risk posed by seed collection activities.
In our appraisal of alternative species, we needed to assess:
if a species is ecologically appropriate,
aspects of seed ecology (including frequency, timing and abundance of seed set)
suitability for commercial propagation/production.