Updated: Apr 3
"The majority of Lord Howe Island has been closed to nonessential visitors due to an outbreak of myrtle rust, a highly infectious plant fungus.
Lord Howe’s permanent park preserve, which covers about 70% of the world heritage–listed island, was “temporarily closed to all nonessential visitors, effective immediately”, the Lord Howe Island Board said.
Myrtle rust was discovered on the island on 3 February. Despite ongoing treatment and preventative fungicide spraying, weekly sweeps had identified three additional infected sites, two of which were around 230m from the boundary of the permanent park preserve, the board said.
Atticus Fleming, chair of the Lord Howe Island Board, told Guardian Australia that all four infected sites were located within the settlement areas of the island.
“It was the fact that they were close to the edge of the [preserve] that was the trigger for closing [it],” he said.
Myrtle rust affects plants of the Myrtaceae family, which includes eucalypts, paperbarks and tea trees. The fungus affects flower buds and new growth, affecting the ability of plants to photosynthesise.
Phot: Approximately 70% of Lord Howe Island has been closed to nonessential visitors due to an outbreak of myrtle rust, a highly infectious plant fungus. Photograph: Patrick Keneally/The Guardian