Conservation of threatened flora species inspires street art

A burst of yellow wattle blossom on a wall in regional South Australia is showcasing a threatened flora species that is unique to that area.

University of Adelaide researchers are working with Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula to develop a complete understanding of the endangered Whibley’s wattle (Acacia whibleyana), a species only found around Tumby Bay.

Scientists want to further understand the species genetics, update its management plan and also establish a comprehensive seed bank to conserve the wattle into the future.

To help raise awareness of the wattle’s conservation, local artist Danica Gates has added a painting to Tumby Bay’s stimulating street art scene.

Tumby Bay street art

In front of the new Whibley’s wattle street art painting in Tumby Bay are, from left, Doug Bickerton (Department for Environment and Water), Dr Jasmin Packer (University of Adelaide), Dr Renate Faast (University of Adelaide), artist Danica Gates, Geraldine Turner (Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula) and Colette Blyth (University of Adelaide).

“It will go a long way in helping communicate what is unique and special about the nature of Tumby Bay, as well as increase community awareness and protection of the species,” said Natural Resources Officer Geraldine Turner.  

“Tumby Bay is now in spotlight for its scientific research on this species.”

Ms Turner, who has been working to protect Whibley’s wattle for more than 25 years, said that the University of Adelaide visit was the first by any university to the Tumby Bay region.

The research is being co-led by Dr Jasmin Packer and Dr Martin Breed in collaboration with Dr Renate Faast and Colette Blyth, all from the School of Biological Sciences.

Last week, the research team visited five isolated populations of the wattle which consist of more than 1,000 remnant plants.

Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula are also working with land managers to revegetate new areas with Whibley’s wattle and undertake pest plant and animal control in areas that have historic stands of Whibley’s wattle.

"Through more intensive surveying efforts, we’ve hoping to discovery other natural populations of Whibley’s wattle that may be out there, which can provide more genetic diversity,” Ms Turner said.

Whibley’s wattle was named in honour of Mr D.J.E Whibley, member of the State Herbarium of South Australia, and author of the first edition of the 'Acacias of South Australia' field guide.

The recovery actions are funded by the Australian Government's National Landcare Program.

Tagged in Research News, School of Biological Sciences News, Earth and Environmental Science News, Ecology News