Up to a third of a recently discovered copse of rare macadamia forest has been destroyed by the recent Queensland bushfires.
Up to a third of a recently discovered copse of rare macadamia forest has been destroyed by the recent Queensland bushfires. Mike Knott BUN171115NUT10

Rare macadamia trees destroyed in bushfire

Up to a third of a recently discovered copse of rare macadamia forest has been destroyed by the recent Queensland bushfires.

Conservationists say the discovery of about 150 trees in 2018 had trebled the known population of the species of trees they say are as rare as the Wollemi Pine, but at least a third of the copse had burned and won't recover.

A group from the Macadamia Conservation Trust entered the secret location in the remote Bulburin rainforest on April 14 and discovered "almost all of the small Macadamia jansenii, or Mj, trees that had been touched by fire appeared to be dead".

"It appears that a low intensity fire can be enough to kill Macadamia jansenii", said retired cane farm manager and field naturalist Keith Sarnadsky, who was part of the team.

"Some of the larger plants may have died due to their own stump burning, but some now have suckers appearing. Most of the dead plants didn't appear to have an extremely hot fire around them."

The species was first recognised by the modern scientific community in 1992.

Ian McConachie, an MCT founding member, said as the tree grows in an area that is much hotter than the commercial macadamias, it likely has genes that will be used in the future to mitigate the effects of global warming.


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