Xstrata orchid rescue a success

WHAT is believed to be the first attempt to move a rare species of Upper Hunter orchid away from mining is showing signs of success.

More than 1500 pine donkey orchids (Diurus tricolour) have been moved from Xstrata’s Mangoola mine site to another location at Wybong over the past two years, said to be the first time this species had been translocated.

Xstrata ecologist Tasman Willis says of the more than 300 moved in 2010, about 12per cent to 14per cent have flowered.

More than 1300 were moved in 2011 and if all goes well, they could start flowering in September.

‘‘Flowering is an indication of some success,’’ Mr Willis said.

Not all of the orchids would flower at the same time, but the results were encouraging, he said.

The orchid is considered to be a threatened species in NSW and endangered in the Muswellbrook local government area.

In 2007 the NSW Scientific Committee determined the orchid faced extinction in the Muswellbrook shire and coalmining was one of the major threats.

The transfer project includes a Wybong orchid (Prassophylum Wybong), of which only seven populations are known to exist.

University of Newcastle Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration researchers are working on the project and plan to publish their results.

Mr Willis said the relocation was part of Mangoola’s environmental management plan.

He said the project would provide information on the plants’ living conditions, pollination, microbial associations, how to collect seed and germination.

The project will continue for the 20-year life of the mine.

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