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Translocation is an important tool used to assist in the conservation of many Western Australian plants that face a high risk of extinction in the wild in the near to immediate future.

Flora translocations are the deliberate transfer of plant material from one area to another for the purpose of conservation. This plant material may be in the form of seeds, cuttings or propagated seedlings.

Flora translocations may involve:

  • Restocking declining populations - planting more plants at a site where the species already occurs (augmentation)
  • Restoring an extinct population - planting at a site where the species used to occur but are now believed to be extinct (reintroduction)
  • Establishing new populations - planting in areas that have greater long term security, are within the known distribution range for the plant species and have similar habitat (introduction)
  • Establishing new populations - planting in areas that have greater long term security, are not within the known distribution range for the plant species but have appropriate habitat (conservation introduction)

Why is translocation used ?

By deliberating transferring plant material form one area to another, Parks and Wildlife aims to reduce the risk of extinction, and increase the long term security of Western Australian threatened plants in the wild.

Translocation is used as a conservation tool when a plant species has little chance of surviving in the wild without intervention.

Plant species that can no longer do this are listed as critically endangered flora and plans known as interim recovery plans are created to assist in their survival.

By aiding the survival of critically endangered plants in, and near areas where they have always existed, translocation ensures that these plants continue to take part in the natural processes that underpin the ecosystem to which they belong.

How are plants translocated ?

The translocation and establishment of viable populations of threatened plants is a complex process requiring expertise and knowledge in a range of biological disciplines.

Typically our researchers undertaking a flora translocation will:

  • Assess whether translocation will reduce the risk of plant extinction and increase plant population recovery.
  • Select an appropriate translocation site.
    This site must have similar habitat to areas populated with wild plants but without the same kinds of threatening processes that cause their extinction. To select sites researchers must match soils and vegetation to the original site. They must also assess the site for factors that will ensure greater long term security for the plant species.
  • Propagate the plants.
    Seeds or cuttings may be selected from the remaining populations in the wild, or seed from the Threatened Flora Seed Centre collection may be used. New plants are grown for translocation by germinating seed in the Threatened Flora Seed Centre Laboratory. These new plants are then grown in the nursery at the Botanic Gardens and Park Authority in conditions that ensure no weeds, pests or diseases are translocated with the plants.
  • Design a layout and plant out.
    To guarantee a good start for plants, planting takes place during the higher rainfall winter months. To learn as much as possible about the best techniques to use in translocation, and to ensure precious seed or plant material isn't wasted, planting is done on a 'experimental' basis. This may mean, in some cases only half the plants are fenced to protect them from herbivores such as rabbits and kangaroos, or only half the plants are watered over summer.
  • Monitor and maintain translocated plants
    Plants are monitored regularly for survival, growth, production of flowers and fruits and their ability to produce the next generation of plants. Monitoring determines the success of the translocations and provides valuable data on both the reproductive biology of the plant and the translocation process as a whole.

How can I help ? - Getting involved in saving Western Australian plants

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