A not-for-profit group based in Kununurra is assisting with local response efforts to the destructive plant pest, citrus canker.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is leading response activities in Kununurra and Wyndham after the disease was found on citrus plants on three premises.
The removal of host plants is necessary under the national response plan to stop citrus canker, which has also been detected in the Northern Territory.
Kununurra Region Economic Aboriginal Corporation (KREAC) has been contracted by the department to remove host plant material including citrus trees from areas close to where the disease was detected.
Department Kununurra manager Noel Wilson said department officers had visited properties to explain the process of removing the specific plants that pose a risk, including all citrus.
“Department officers have been working alongside KREAC operators to facilitate the removal and destruction of host plants on a number of properties, mainly residential,” Mr Wilson said.
“We are ensuring biosecurity processes are in place at an operational level to prevent any potential disease spread.”
Mr Wilson acknowledged the cooperation of local property owners involved in this difficult but necessary step to stop the spread of this serious plant disease and support the citrus industry.
Removal of plants is complete at Wyndham, and activity is underway in Kununurra.
KREAC manager Dennis Peart said the team was familiar with control activities for weeds through previous projects, but responding to a plant disease was a learning process.
“This is the first time that KREAC has been involved in an emergency plant disease response,” Mr Peart said.
“We have been working to make sure the biosecurity and safety measures are carried out, such as use of personal protective equipment and disinfection processes for equipment and vehicles.”
Mr Peart said the same team had been working throughout the response and they were committed to the work.
He aimed to put training in place to further upskill workers, including chemical use training.
“KREAC is involved with Work for the Dole programs and also directly employs people, with the aim to help people find full-time work,” Mr Peart said.
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937/83325