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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
8 March 2001
Thanks to the keen eyes of a West Australian farmer and a Bushcare Support Officer, a rare plant has been rediscovered after being presumed extinct for over 80 years.
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill said the Cranbrook Pea (Gastrolobium lehmannii) is at least the third rare plant in the past two years to be rediscovered through Natural Heritage Trust funding.
"The Cranbrook Pea was last collected from the wild in 1918, so this is an exciting discovery in terms of local biodiversity," Senator Hill said.
"Farmer Bill O'Halloran had seen the plant growing on his property and had been mystified about it since he purchased the property in 1995. He hadn't seen the plant before but because it was growing so well presumed it was a weed.
"Fortunately, during a farm visit, he showed the plant to Bushcare Support Officer Wendy Bradshaw, from Greening Australia, who, after checking reference material at home, suspected it was the 'presumed extinct' Cranbrook Pea.
"Wendy's suspicions were then confirmed first by the Albany Herbarium and the West Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management and then by Dr Mike Crisp, a lecturer at the Australian National University and an Associate of the Australian National Herbarium in Canberra after he was sent a sample of the plant."
This species is listed as extinct under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and has only ever been found in south-west Western Australia.
Senator Hill said the rediscovery was made during a series of farm visits with local landholders as part of Natural Heritage Trust project development. Wendy was on Bill's property to discuss the management of bushland when he alerted her of a plant he was curious about on another site.
The assessment was part of a project development for an extension to the Upper Frankland Gordon River Catchment Rehabilitation Project, which has received almost $650,000 over two years from the Natural Heritage Trust's Bushcare and National Rivercare programs.
"The exciting rediscovery of the Cranbrook Pea follows the rediscovery of the Spiny Daisy in South Australia in late 1999 and the Hidden Beard Heath in Geraldton, Western Australia, in October last year," Senator Hill said.
"Farmers like Mr O'Halloran are playing a vital role in Natural Heritage Trust projects around Australia by being actively involved in revegetation and conservation works on their properties.
"These three examples demonstrate how the Natural Heritage Trust is helping not only to fund on-ground conservation works, but also to generate greater awareness of Australia's rich biodiversity."
8 March, 2001
Further information: Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill) (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364
Wendy Bradshaw (Bushcare officer) (08) 9825 3092 or 0429 687 874
Hidden Beard Heath
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and Dr Mike Crisp, a lecturer at the Australian National University and an Associate of the Australian National Herbarium with the latest sample of the Cranbrook Pea.