A Killer Lurks Amongst Us
I care about the bushland I visit and it troubles me when I see a patch of scrub ravaged by the spread of Phytophthora Cinnamoni (PC), a fungus disease that is carried through water and soils. It has appeared at various locations around the country, thought to be imported originally from South-East Asia over a hundred years ago.
Unwittingly man has spread it, typically where contaminated soils have been transported to another site. As 4WD owners we can do our bit to arrest the distribution of PC by being very careful where you go with your vehicles and making sure that after a day out your buggy is clean.
It’s not only native species that suffer, domestic gardens, orchards and potato growing districts can all be affected creating not only a poor visual amenity, but a serious loss of production capacity and income.
Bushwalking, Mountain Biking & 4WD
For a bushwalker the simple act of walking through a contaminated area, any debris on your shoes moved to another site may be the start of a new infestation. Mountain-bike riders too unwittingly end up with mud and slush on their tyres, ridden through “clean” areas and again, depositing small fragments of PC affected material.
With a 4WD this can occur on a grand scale, contaminated soil trapped up under the guards, around the suspension and chassis, a sitting time bomb waiting to be dropped onto another piece of track space and starts the destruction again.
Here in Adelaide at various sites in the Mt Lofty Ranges are boot cleaning stations, footbaths where stiff bristle brushes aid removal of mud from the soles and sides of your shoes. A bath of control liquid will help kill the fungus. For vehicles though a high-pressure washer applied to the 4WD, ATV or pushbike, paying particular attention to the underside might mean the difference between spread and no spread.
Those times we are on Kangaroo Island delivering 4WD courses we see firsthand, PC control at work, NPWS trayback utes using their fire-fighting pumps to good effect to do wash-downs at day’s end, simple yet effective management of a very difficult problem. As an individual you too need to keep your vehicle in a clean condition. Parking the 4WD in the middle of a gentle stream to give it a tub might sound attractive, but it could well be an ideal way to transmit the fungus along the length of the watercourse.
Visit the South Australian Department of Environment & Natural Resources website www.environment.sa.gov.au to read more about preventing the spread of PC.