26 September 2023

Secret location to save secret tree species

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A 40-million-year-old tree species is being translocated for the first time, with 20 seedlings to be planted across four secret sites in NSW.

Announced by Minister for Environment, James Griffin, Department of Planning and Environment’s Saving Our Species officers have teamed up with the Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan species experts to save the species after it was severely affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.

“The plight of the Nightcap Oak tree is similar to that of the Wollemi Pine, but it’s the lesser known of the two,” Mr Griffin said.

“This species was only discovered in the year 2000, but its origins can be traced back 40 million years to the Gondwana era,” he said.

“The population of Nightcap Oaks north-east of Lismore is the only known population in the wild, and during the recent bushfires, about 20 per cent of the existing trees were destroyed or impacted.”

Mr Griffin said more than 500 seeds were collected for propagation in a specialist nursery, “but they’re notoriously difficult and slow to grow.”

The Minister said that since the collection, 50 seedlings had been successfully grown and 20 of these would be translocated to four secret sites in the Nightcap and nearby Mount Jerusalem national parks on the NSW North Coast, with the rest being planted in coming months.

“The Nightcap Oak is the ancient rainforest equivalent of the Wollemi Pine in terms of evolutionary significance, and it’s yet another great example of a critical species that we’re helping to bring back from the brink,” he said.

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