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22 October 2000
The Hidden Beard Heath has certainly lived up to its name - the rare Western Australian wildflower has not been seen for the past 15 years.
Yet Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced the rare plant is now out of hiding after a Natural Heritage Trust project rediscovered its existence near Geraldton.
Senator Hill and Western Australian Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes welcomed the find, saying it was a significant boost to biodiversity in the area.
"The Hidden Beard Heath has not been seen in the wild for 15 years and has only been collected from the wild on three previous occasions - the first specimen was collected in 1903," Senator Hill said.
"This species is listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 and prior to its 'disappearance' in the mid 1980s, there were only 100 plants known in the wild.
"Department of Conservation and Land Management conservation officer Alanna Chant found the flower in remnant roadside vegetation during field surveys for a local Bushcare project.
"Thanks to funding from both the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust and the Western Australian Government, this project has generated an increasing level of community interest and involvement in rare flora management," Senator Hill said.
Mrs Edwardes said the rediscovery of Hidden Beard Heath highlighted the fact that the journey of biological discovery was forever changing.
"In the past two years in Western Australia there have been two further species rediscovered after having been presumed extinct," she said.
Mrs Edwardes said the Department of Conservation and Land Management has worked in recent years to raise public awareness of some of the State's critically endangered flora.
"Greater community awareness and understanding about ways to lessen the impact of human activities on the species might lead to the discovery of new populations.
"Many of the impacts on these threatened species are the result of exotic diseases, weeds and animals such as goats, pigs and rabbits."
Mrs Edwardes said the awareness campaign would be boosted by this month's release of The Western Australian Flora - A Descriptive Catalogue after a seven-year project to record all native and alien flora from Western Australia's deserts, tropics, sandplains and native forests.
Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258364
Steve Manchee (Cheryl Edwardes) (08) 9421 7777 or 0408 051 772