Notification: Parks and Wildlife Service is part of the new Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

State's most popular cadets program celebrates 20th anniversary

  • Youth-based conservation and education program, Bush Rangers WA, celebrates milestone.

  • Bush Rangers has the highest participation of Aboriginal students, female students and students with disability of any Cadets WA program.

Western Australia's biggest cadets program, Bush Rangers WA, has celebrated its 20th year.

Attending the annual Bush Rangers conference today in Perth, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson commended the program that encourages secondary school students to develop practical nature conservation skills and contribute to their local community.

Since its inception in 1998, the program has seen more than 18,500 young people take part, contributing 1.9 million volunteer hours to conservation and community projects.

There are currently 67 cadet units around the State from Kununurra to Esperance, comprising of more than 3200 secondary school students. Students take part in regular camps where they carry out planting, fencing or weeding; as well as adventurous activities including abseiling, swimming with whale sharks, and rock climbing.

Bush Rangers is coordinated by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and is part of the broader Cadets WA initiative, supported by the Department of Communities.



Community input sought on Perth Water Precinct Plan

Perth residents are being encouraged to have their say on the future of the Perth Water precinct - the section of the Swan River and its foreshore between the Narrows and Windan bridges.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ Parks and Wildlife Service is running a preliminary survey as part of the consultation process and is asking for community members to participate.Survey - Perth Water Precinct Plan.



Grants awarded to community groups to protect river

  • 17 community groups receive funding in first round of Community Rivercare Grants
  • The not-for-profit volunteer groups will share $300,000 in 2018-19 

The McGowan Labor Government has today announced the first round of grant recipients for its Community Rivercare Program, which will see $900,000 allocated to community groups over three years via the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

The funding will help deliver projects including foreshore restoration and riverbank erosion, reduction of nutrient inflows, native waterbird conservation, native fish habitat protection and restocking of native recreational fish species.



  • Phytophthora dieback devastation - Photo © Parks and Wildlife

    What is Phytophthora dieback?

    • Phytophthora dieback is caused by the plant pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi, which kills susceptible plants, such as banksias, jarrah and grass trees, by attacking their root systems.
    • Dieback is a symptom of a Phytophthora infection, and affects more than 40 per cent of the native plant species and half of the endangered ones in the south-west of Western Australia.
    • The plants die because they cannot take up the water and nutrients they need.
    • It's is not easy to detect as infected plants often appear to be dying from drought.
    • There is no known cure for the disease.
    • Phytophthora disease also affects many agricultural crops and garden plants.
    • The fungus is spread through the movement of soil and mud, especially by vehicles and footwear. It also moves in free water and via root-to root contact between plants.
    • Help prevent the spread of Phytophthora dieback.
    • It can devastate bushland by removing particular plants and changing the nature of the landscape, possibly driving rare species toward extinction. Changes in the composition of bushland also represent habitat change to animal communities with flow-on effects to their survival potential.
    • There are several species of Phytophthora, but Phytophthora cinnamomi is the most widespread and destructive. It was probably introduced by early European settlers in the soil of plants they brought with them.
    impact-map small

    Spread of dieback in WA
    Larger map

    Its impact in Western Australia

    More than 40 per cent of Western Australian native plants are susceptible to the disease, particularly those in state's south-west.

    The area of land infected in Western Australia by Phytophthora dieback is equivalent to 500 times the size of Rottnest Island or over one million hectares.

    Twenty per cent of the state's jarrah forest and up to 80% of the Stirling Range National Park infected.

    Where it is

    Phytophthora dieback has been found in many of south-west Western Australia's national parks, nature reserves and metropolitan bushland:

    How it affects the environment

    Dieback can cause:

    • loss of biodiversity
    • extinctions of threatened plant and animal species that rely on susceptible plants for food and habitat, such as dibblers, western ground parrots and honey possums.
    • reduced variety of native plants
    • loss of key understorey species
    • disruption to woodland vegetation structure
    • the increased dominance of resistant plants such as grasses, rushes and sedges, or introduced weeds.
    Dieback shoe cleaning station - Photo © Parks and Wildlife

    Stopping dieback

    Phytophthora cinnamomi lives in soil and in plant tissue, and can survive in plant roots during the dry summer months.

    • The warm moist soils of the state's south-west provide ideal conditions for Phytophthora cinnamomi to produce millions of spores.
    • The disease is spread through infected soil and mud, especially by vehicles and footwear, as well as through water and root- to root contact between plants.

    Managing the disease

    There is no known cure for Phytophthora dieback.

    The department is carrying out research into the fungicide phosphite, a biodegradable fungicide that protects plants against Phytophthora dieback. Phosphite works by boosting the plant's own natural defences, allowing some susceptible plants to survive in Phytophthora dieback infected areas. 


    Prevention is still they key. Limiting the spread of Phytophthora dieback is cheaper and far more effective than managing the impacts of the disease once introduced to a bushland.

    Phytophthora dieback is most rapidly spread through human activity resulting in the movement of infected soil on vehicles, equipment and footwear.

    Forestry and mining industries, as well as recreational bushland users (such as off-road vehicles, mountain bikes and bush walkers) need to take particular care not to spread the disease.

    Management practices to prevent the spread of Phytophthora dieback into uninfected areas include strict hygiene measures such as:

    • cleaning stations to avoid transport of contaminated soil
    • cleaning footwear and washing down vehicles and equipment
    • use of dieback free construction materials
    • seasonal and permanent road and trail closures
    • information signs and education.
    Vehicle at washdown station - Photo © Parks and Wildlife

    What you can do

    You can play a vital role in stopping the spread of Phytophthora dieback:

    • look out for information signs around dieback-affected areas and follow the instructions
    • do not move soil or plant material
    • use clean-down stations and boot cleaning stations
    • stay out of quarantined areas in bushland and forest
    • do not enter disease risk areas during, or for three days after, rain
    • follow local regulations when gathering firewood

    Dieback free areas:

    • use clean-down stations to remove or sterilise mud and soil from footwear, equipment and vehicles before entry
    • avoid travel during and after rain, when the soil is damp
    • always stay on roads and tracks
    • apply for permits when required (such as when gathering firewood)
    • be prepared for and observe restrictions on access.

    The department's role

    Phytophthora dieback research is a major component of the department's work.

    Our research includes:

    • detecting and identifying new Phytophthora species in Western Australia
      • monitoring the spread, and rate of spread, of Phytophthora pathogens
      • investigating the genetic makeup and survival capacity of Phytophthora species
    • investigating the susceptibility of Western Australian plants to Phytophthora cinnamomi and other Phytophthora species
      • researching the biology and epidemiology of Phytophthora species in native plant communities
    • investigating ways to reduce the spread of Phytophthora dieback.
      • investigating ways to optimise current control methods including phosphite treatment, and hygiene and quarantine protocols
      • researching the role of fire in managing species susceptible to Phytophthora
      • translocating plant species at risk. This involves deliberately transferring plants from one area to another to help conserve it.
    • seed banking rare and endangered flora that is susceptible to Phytophthora disease. Seed banking offers us an efficient and cost effective way of conserving genetic diversity for future conservation work
    • researching and understanding the long-term impacts of Phytophthora cinnamomi in Western Australian ecosystems.

    The department has an active program to detect, diagnose and map the occurrence of dieback on lands managed by Parks and Wildlife. This includes interpreting and mapping areas for Phytophthora dieback prior to disturbance operations to manage or contain the spread of dieback. Visit the department's Vegetation Health Service to identify and detect Phytophthora species.

    Links and resources

    Parks and Wildlife information 


    Articles in this category:

    Title Modified Date
    About the Vegetation Health Service Friday, 24 March 2017 15:01
    Phosphite and Phytophthora dieback Friday, 10 February 2017 10:12