Highly Infectious ‘myrtle rust’ disease forces Lord Howe Island closure

View south over Lord Howe Island from Malabar

Note: This story has since been updated with information confirming Lord Howe Island is still open for business.

Non essential visitors have been restricted from entering Lord Howe Island, a popular holiday destination, due to the increased risk of a fungus causing disease known as myrtle rust.

Myrtle rust can lead to deformation, defoliation, dieback and stunted growth of plants.

The Lord Howe Island Board announced to their Facebook page that the permanent park reserve had been temporarily closed.

The area covers around 70 per vent of the island and was created to preserve its native flora and fauna, it is now unable to be accessed by recognised access points, bush tracks and via boat.

Lord Howe Island Board announcing the closure, click the link to view post.

Located in the Pacific, Lord Howe Island is home to a number of rare and in some cases threatened plants and animals which often leads authorities to take drastic measures to ensure the preservation of the ecosystem.

“The rust has the potential to change the way our mountains and forest looks, it may alter food webs and ecology, and potentially affect world heritage values,” a board statement to residents said.

“There are about three or four groups already on the island in the middle of all the walks and the shutdown means they can‘t do their walks and all their schedules are disrupted,” treasurer, Lord Howe Tourism Association, Stephen Sia, told the ABC.

“It’s a busy time of the year leading up to Easter and there have been requests for refunds and all sorts of compensation.”

 

There are now at least four sites on the island that have been infected with myrtle rust which has the ability to drastically alter the ecology of the island.

Experts in myrtle rust from the NSW department of planning and environment and department of primary industries held an information session on the island on 16 March.

 

 

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