Alix Murray, 24yo, from Ireland, planting macadamia nut trees on the Lewis family farm at Bundaberg. Pic John Wilson
Alix Murray, 24yo, from Ireland, planting macadamia nut trees on the Lewis family farm at Bundaberg. Pic John Wilson

Three macadamia varieties on global threatened species list

THREE species of native macadamia nuts are now on the Global Threatened Species Red List, prompting calls for government action from industry groups.

The macadamia industry is worth $850 million in retail value to the nation’s economy through its 800 plus growers.

Gladstone has been a driving force in the survival of the endangered Macadamia jansenii, with plants growing at Tondoon Botanic Gardens and other regional botanic gardens.

Native to Queensland, both the macadamia integrifolia and macadamia ternifolia, plus the northern NSW native macadamia tetraphylla, are all now on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list.

Both the macadamia ternifolia and tetraphylla are listed as endangered, while the macadamia integrifolia is classed as vulnerable.

Denise Bond of the Macadamia Conservation Trust.
Denise Bond of the Macadamia Conservation Trust.

As a result, the Macadamia Conservation Trust is calling on the federal government to urgently adopt a recovery plan for the survival of three wild macadamias now classified as threatened.

“This is a wake-up call,” said MCT executive officer Denise Bond.

“I hope this listing will encourage the federal government to adopt the Macadamia Species Recovery Plan which will facilitate action to address the threats facing wild macadamia species.”

The plan, submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in early 2019, provides information on the biology, ecology, distribution and threats to survival of macadamias and identifies the research and management needed to support the species’ long-term recovery.

Ms Bond said calls for public comment on the draft plan closed on June 7, 2019 – but Minister Susan Ley is yet to adopt it.

“Macadamias are native to Australia and their inclusion on the IUCN Red List is a reminder that, post-colonisation, in less than 200 years, these species have lost 80 per cent or more of their rainforest habitat,” Ms Bond said.

“Even now, their remaining habitat is threatened by further clearing, weed invasion, changes to fire regimes, and climate change and that’s why we want a formal recovery plan in place.

Endangered native fruits – finger lime, Davidson's plum and macadamia nuts.
Endangered native fruits – finger lime, Davidson's plum and macadamia nuts.

“MCT hopes that this international recognition of their vulnerability will lead to more focus on their conservation in Australia to protect these unique species and their habitat.”

These three macadamia species are listed as “vulnerable” under the federal government’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and by the Queensland and NSW state governments.

The Australian non-profit MCT is the world’s only charity devoted to conserving macadamias.

Meanwhile, The Australian Macadamia Society is calling for expressions of interest from Queensland macadamia growers interested in completing a Certificate III in Production Horticulture through TAFE Queensland in 2021.

Producers, production nursery tradespersons and orchard farmhands will gain a comprehensive understanding of current horticulture best practice and innovative growing methods.

To register your interest click here.

Macadamias are Australia’s leading commercially grown native crop and Australians eat more than twice as many macadamias per capita as any other country – an average of 135 grams per person.

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