Students teach politicians about Dieback

Past and present Armadale Primary School students joined together to give two pollies a hands-on lesson in dieback management.

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Fisheries Ken Baston and Member for the East Metropolitan Region Alyssa Hayden visited the school during a regional cabinet meeting on 30 March.

"This important program is introducing the next generation of active community members to the valuable contribution they can make to dieback management', Minister Baston said.

Dieback is a devastating plant disease caused by the soil-borne water mould Phytophthora cinnamomi. Western Australia's south-west provides ideal conditions for the disease which has spread to more than one million hectares of bushland where it causes disease and death in over 2400 native plant species. The disease is having a major impact in Perth's Banksia woodlands where it can kill every tree in a reserve.

Teachers at Armadale Primary School worked with the Dieback Working Group to develop the award winning 'Discovering Dieback' educational program. This program has introduced hundreds of upper primary students to the concepts of biodiversity and the threat posed by Phytophthora dieback.

The program, now seven years old, is being revised to meet the new National Curriculum thanks to a $25 000 grant from the WA Government's State NRM Program.

The revision will include a focus on how Aboriginal people cared for the land and the importance of different plant communities and species to their culture and beliefs.

Students shared their knowledge of Phytophthora dieback and showed the two visiting ministers how to treat susceptible trees with phosphite injections. Phosphite is a biodegradable fungicide that protects plants against Phytophthora dieback. It works by boosting the plant's own natural defences, allowing them to survive within dieback-infested bushland.