There are an increasing number of records of Bunyas dying on the Blackall Range over the last few years, so has Bunya Dieback arrived here? We asked Spencer Shaw of Forest Heart ecoNursery to share his knowledge on this important development.

“This is a story that has quite significant implications for the Sunshine Coast Hinterland,” said Spencer.  

“In a few media reports you may have seen or heard about a disease called Bunya Dieback afflicting the Bunya trees at the Bunya Mountains National Park (200km west of here and south of Kingaroy).” 

Spencer believes we need to take notice. “It does appear our Bunya are also under threat … “ Spencer coined the term ‘Bunyageddon’ but his amusing phrase is merely to make people stop and look; to encourage them to find out more.

Research undertaken at the Bunya Mountains National Park into the cause of Bunya Dieback is that a species of Phytophthora, a water mould/oomycetes, is responsible. 

“Phytophthora lives in and is transported in soil, and through its life cycle damages the roots of trees, eventually preventing the tree from getting any nutrients or water,” said Spencer.

“The initial symptoms of infection are dieback of the tree crown, followed by death of the whole tree over a few months.”

The species of phytophthora thought to be responsible for the Bunya Dieback is Phytophthora multivora. It appears Bunya dieback was introduced into the area by movement of soil, on shoes and or vehicles.  

“So, without wanting to create a major panic, apart from the invention of the word Bunyageddon,” smiled Spencer, “we need to look at how we, the current stewards of this country, can ensure that these magnificent trees whose origin goes back hundreds of millions of years, survive into the future.”

Brush Turkey Enterprises and Forest Heart ecoNursery have been proactive in contacting National Parks at the Bunya Mountains to find out more about this disease and its implications both there and here.

Spencer, “We have supplied Bunya seedlings to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for their research into the cause of Bunya Dieback. 

“Through our production nursery we are also helping with preservation of the Bunya by growing thousands in tubestock, and larger-sized plants to help get more young Bunyas back onto this country. 

“We also want to raise awareness that Bunya Dieback has potentially arrived on the Blackall Range and gather records of Bunya tree deaths, that we can use to help progress the research needed to confirm and eventually manage this.” 

If you have a Bunya death on your property or know of one on public land please email details including your name, contact phone, address, photo and GPS location of tree if available, send emails to spencer.shaw@bruhsturkey.com.au