Public urged to enjoy but respect sensitive wildflowers

September 11, 2015

Cowslip orchid

Cowslip orchid

Murdoch University Associate Professor David Newsome has encouraged those who are planning on enjoying the colourful wildflowers that blanket the state, to be mindful of the potential damage trampling can have on the vegetation.

Dr Newsome shone light on the awareness of the impact of recreational trampling following a Biodiversity and Conservation paper he co-wrote titled Recreational trampling negatively impacts vegetation structure of an Australian biodiversity hotspot’.

Results from the paper conclude that vegetation height and cover measured at three sites frequented by wildflower tourists declined in response to use by tourists. Further to this, trampling experiments were also conducted, with some test trampling areas experiencing over a 20cm reduction in the height of the vegetation immediately following the experimental treatment.

Experimental work conducted over the period of the study indicated that the resilience of the vegetation in regard to recovery from trampling to be poor.

“The message here is that we must enjoy our wildflowers, but also realise that they are sensitive to damage,” Associate Professor Newsome said.

The research study looked at wildflower tourism in the national parks of the southwest of Western Australia; a global diversity hotspot, and the potential damage this industry could have on the flora on which it depends if the visitor does not stick to pathways and ends up accidently trampling the flora.

The results of the research place a high emphasis on the importance of education for the tourism industry in regard to recreational trampling impacts on biodiverse shrubland communities in particular.

The underlying message from Dr Newsome is to enjoy the flowers but also be aware of where you are treading. In other words realise that these plants are sensitive to damage, may take years to recover if damaged, and that they deserve your respect.

“We encourage the public to be careful where they put their feet whilst out and about this spring and enjoying the wildflowers,” continued the expert in wildlife tourism.

Tourism is potentially one of a group of threatening processes for the southwest global biodiversity hotspot, that also include climate change, invasive weeds, feral animals, altered fire regimes and the spread of fungal pathogens.

The wildflower season in Western Australia, which attracts thousands of tourists and tour groups each year, generally starts in June in the north and finishes in the south in November.

Print This Post Print This Post

Leave a comment

You can use these tags : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

We read every comment and will make every effort to approve each new comment within one working day. To ensure speedy posting, please keep your comments relevant to the topic of discussion, free of inappropriate language and in-line with the editorial integrity of this newsroom. If not, your comments may not be published.

Thanks for commenting!