A plan of action is adopted to help save the world’s only wild macadamia plants from extinction.
The origin of the global $1.58 billion macadamia nut industry, Australia’s wild population has been decimated by clearing, with three species listed as vulnerable and a fourth critically endangered.
The Macadamia Conservation Trust estimates as few as 8,800 wild trees remain in small pockets of remnant sub-tropical rainforest in a thin strip along the east coast from Gladstone in central Queensland to northern New South Wales.
Trust founder Ian McConachie said he doubted many Australians understood the native plant’s precarious position in the wild. “At least 80 per cent of the wild macadamias that existed when European settlement started have been lost, and we’re continuing to lose wild trees, and we’re losing their specific genetics,” Mr McConachie said.
“The easiest way to think about it is that macadamias love to live where people live, so they like rich red soils, ideally within 50 kilometres of the sea, with a view, if you like,” Macadamia Conservation Trust executive officer Denise Bond said.
“That’s the area between Northern Rivers and Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast that has been very heavily cleared for people to live and grow crops. The result is that less than 20 per cent of macadamia habitat remains.”