A group of Year 12 students from various Clontarf Colleges in Western Australia have assisted in fighting dieback disease in Quedjinmia Reserve in Dunsborough as part of a leadership camp to the south west.
City of Busselton environmental officer Kay Lehman accompanied the students along with Friends of Quedjinmia Reserve group members Rob Langworthy and Stuart Ratcliffe.
The students took part in the injection of phosphite solution into numerous banksia trees within the reserve.
Ms Lehman told the students dieback disease (phytophthora cinnamomi) was a pathogen which attacks the roots of plants and causes them to rot.
"This kills the plant by limiting or stopping the uptake of water and nutrients," she said.
Thought to have arrived in WA shortly after European settlement, the disease affects many native plant species, and banksias in a bushland area such as Quedjinmia Reserve are especially vulnerable.
"Phosphite is a biodegradable fungicide that protects plants against dieback. It works by boosting the plant's own natural defences, thereby enabling plants to survive in dieback infested bushland," Ms Lehman said.
"We inject the selected banksia trees with dilute phosphite solution which enters the plant's water transport system. This provides three to five years protection against dieback".
Mr Ratcliffe said the group was pleased to have the students help at the reserve.
"This reserve, which surrounds the Naturaliste Community Centre, contains a wide range of native plant species which are under threat from dieback disease," he said.
"Any help we can have in fighting the disease is much appreciated.
"We were very impressed by the enthusiasm shown by the students in understanding the disease and how to combat it, and also in the cultural significance of the reserve".
Clontarf Foundation group leader Travis Thorne said it was grateful to the City of Busselton and Friends of Quedjinmia Reserve for helping the foundation develop an interesting and rewarding program for the students.
"We look forward to undertaking similar programs as part of future leadership camps to the region," he said.