Discovery of new Acacia species at Southern Seawater Desalination Plant
After a long investigation Water Corporation has confirmed a new species of Acacia has been discovered at the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant (SSDP) near Binningup.
In 2015 a revegetation program carried out in bushland and dunes near the SSDP revealed an interesting Acacia plant that had some similarities to existing species - but with some unique characteristics.
As a result, botanists Geoff Cockerton and Kevin Thiele were commissioned in 2016 and 2017 to search for other populations of the Acacia to confirm the new species. The surveys provided important information, however the mystery remained unsolved.
Water Corporation South West Regional Manager John Janssen said botanists made another effort to find the last piece of the puzzle in February 2018, and confirm beyond doubt that the Binningup plants were a completely new species, rather than a variation of an existing one.
“While driving through the Harvey region the botanists had two separate chance sightings of plants with similar characters as the Binningup Acacia growing on the side of the road,” Mr Janssen said.
“These chance sightings were a significant breakthrough as it proved the plants found at Binningup were not a variation of an existing species due to the local conditions, and provided further evidence needed to confirm the presence of a new species.”
Mr Janssen said a submission to the WA Herbarium was made in July 2018, and in September Acacia sp. Binningup was officially recognised and named as a new species.
“We are thrilled to have played a part in the discovery of this new species near our plant, as it illustrates the thriving biodiversity we want to nurture right on our doorstep,” said Mr Janssen.
SSDP Community Reference Group member and Harvey Shire President, Tania Jackson, said the rehabilitation of the site and ongoing environmental work in the dune system near the plant had improved the quality and sustainability of the area.
“It is fantastic to have the expertise provided by the SSDP team, and the huge discovery of this local species of Acacia coming out of this work. It is a real cause for celebration for the Binningup and Myalup communities in the botanical science world,” she said.
Water Corporation is now planning a project to collect seeds from the new Acacia species for planting within the revegetated areas around the SSDP.
Did you know?
Contact: Lauren Lane
Position: Water Corporation Senior Advisor, Customer & Stakeholder
Phone: (08) 9725 5148