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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Snow gum murder mystery

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) are asking the public to help investigate a phenomenon that’s killing Australia’s iconic snow gums.

Dr Matthew Brookhouse says very little is known about ‘snow gum dieback’, despite it being widespread throughout the Australian Alps.

“We think it’s caused by infestations of Phoracantha beetles, which tunnel in and feed within the host trees,” Dr Brookhouse said.

Snow gum dieback is most common in high elevation areas, between 1,600m and 1,800m. Because of the scale and remote nature of the affected areas, Dr Brookhouse said observations from ‘citizen scientists’ are invaluable.

Trees affected by snow gum dieback are easy to spot. The infestation typically starts in the upper branches and moves towards the base of the tree. The beetle larvae make deep, horizontal incisions in the tree as the bark dries out.

A snow gum dieback survey has been set up so the public can add their findings. It was established with the help of the Atlas of Living Australia’s BioCollect program. The survey can be accessed by downloading the BioCollect app. People can also upload data online.

Summer swimming season

Outdoor swimming facilities – Dickson Pool and Manuka Pool – have received some work ahead of the 2019-20 summer swimming season.

Dickson Pool has a new perimeter fence and upgrades to the retaining wall in the beach volleyball courts, while temporary upgrades are underway to improve the forecourt.

The historic and iconic Manuka Pool has undergone extensive works to ensure the pool meets modern health standards as well as retains and protects the original heritage design elements.

The works include a new filtration plant, upgrades to the pool structure, new filtered water lines/inlets in the pool, new underground balance tank, retiling the entire pool, new concrete concourse, upgraded poolside seating and repainting of the main building.

Dickson Pool will open on 21 October and Manuka Pool on 30 November after the completion of refurbishment works.

For more information on pools in the ACT, visit sport.act.gov.au/aquatic-and-leisure-facilities

Protest rally

Activists in Equal Love Canberra are organising a protest against the religious exemptions bill on Saturday 19 October 1pm at Garema Place.

Equal Love Canberra is demanding that the bill is withdrawn and that the existing laws that allow religious schools to fire or expel teachers and pupils on the basis of being LGBTI are repealed.

The National Union of Students LGBTI Office, ANU Queer Department, the ACT Greens and other community groups are supporting this rally.

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