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Senator Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment
Peter McGauran, MP, Minister for Science and Technology
Joint Media Release

Australian Plants Under Threat


3 December 1996

EMBARGOED TO 11.30AM, 3 DECEMBER 1996

The number of endangered native plants in Australia continues to rise, according to a new book from CSIRO Plant Industry.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and Science Minister Peter McGauran have jointly announced the release of the fourth edition of the reference book Rare Or Threatened Australian Plants (ROTAP).

Senator Hill says the book confirms Australia's position as a world leader in research on rare and threatened plants.

"This book illustrates that the fight to save endangered native plants in Australia needs to be maintained.

"Of the 5031 rare or threatened plants listed in the book, 76 are presumed extinct, 1009 are threatened, 1570 are rare but not under any foreseeable threat, and 2376 are believed to be rare.

"The challenge now, using ROTAP, is to work out ways to preserve these plants, and particularly to address various threats to our native plants, such as vegetation clearance."

Mr McGauran says the book provides an invaluable information base for efforts to conserve Australia's native plants.

"The publication brings together a full list of plants that are either presumed extinct, or considered endangered, vulnerable, rare or poorly known and such information is critical in developing strategies to save Australia's biodiversity.

"Among the interesting facts is the sobering statistic that the number of plants classified as rare or endangered in Australia has increased from 17 per cent in 1988 to 22.9 per cent last year.

"Some species in the book are closely related to other plants with commercial significance, such as macadamias, eucalypts and acacias, and the loss of the genetic resources could limit future opportunities for successful plant breeding programs.

"ROTAP will be an invaluable reference for the researchers and plant enthusiasts who are prepared to take up the challenge of finding ways to preserve these plants and, in particular to address the various threats to native species such as soil degradation and erosion."

The fourth edition with 486 pages lists the status of each plant, where it may be found and its correct botanical name and classification. The first edition was published in 1979.

More interesting facts about Australia's rare plants:

The book was written by CSIRO Plant Industry scientists, John Briggs and John Leigh, and has been published by CSIRO Publishing.

ROTAP will continue as a collaborative effort of the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, CSIRO Plant Industry and Environment Australia.

Media contacts: Matt Brown, Senator Hill, 06 277 7640

Centre for Plant Blodiversity Research, 06 246 5113; 0418 626 860

Mr McGauran's Office, 06 277 7660

Commonwealth of Australia