Harnessing Genetics to Restore Resilience in East Gippsland’s Threatened Flora
East Gippsland, Victoria, is unique in terms of its natural environments and biodiversity. Approximately three quarters of the land area comprises national parks and other public land reserves, and there are 125 species that rely on East Gippsland for 50-100% of their recorded range. Thirty percent of these species occur nowhere else on Earth.
Despite the importance of East Gippsland for biodiversity, surprisingly little environmental research has been undertaken in support of on-ground efforts to conserve, maintain and restore species and ecosystems in the region.
Over 100 plant species in East Gippsland are listed as vulnerable or endangered at the national- or state-level, while the status of a further 90 remains uncertain. Many of these plants exist as small and/or localised populations and, for a great majority, their known distributions were severely burnt in the 2019/20 bushfires.
Together, Envite Environment, La Trobe University, the Friends of Mallacoota and partners have embarked on an initiative to secure the future of East Gippsland’s threatened flora through:
- Surveys to assess the post-bushfire status and distribution of ten species in the wild
- Assessment of the genomic diversity and structure of surviving, resprouting or emerging plants from six of these species to aid practical management recommendations, e.g. in case translocation is necessary to ensure survival
- Establishment of ex-situ ‘insurance’ populations in case of future environmental catastrophes. The post-fire recovery and establishment of plans that mitigate risks to the survival of our chosen plant taxa are the focus of this collaborative work.