With the on set of the wetter weather (we can live in hope) the little nasty known as Phytophthora cinnamomi or dieback is a soil borne water mould that rots the roots of plants is easily transfer on vehicles during wet weather. Are your photographic adventures doing damage that you can’t see before you set off consider where your going and take care to reduce the spread of this disease. Ensure you clean your vehicle regularly including underneath. I recommend that you limit each excursion to one location and look for signs of dieback which are easy to spot as the tops of the trees are bare while the res of the plant appears healthy, unfortunately in Australia there is one other very good indicator of Dieback and that’s the lack of live Banksia trees in the understory which are particularly vulnerable.
When your off the road avoid puddles, where you cant proceed very slowly to minimise the amout of wash and spray At the end of your day before you even head home go through a car wash its even better if has ramps or underbody wash as the water and soaps used along with the disposal of the used water ensures that the you are less likely to transfer dieback any further. Dont forget to clean any equipment as you go brush your boots frequently, clean your tripod after each use as well as any other gear that has been on the ground and collected mud.
But dieback is not the only nasty you need to be careful of, the focus by many places to use geocoding to locate pictures on maps and satellite means that the photograph you get of that elusive flower is now a map to everybody else to follow in your foot steps. Consider if you want others to follow, when you say its at this location then illegal collectors now a place they know it was identified and a photo to confirm it. Also there are the just plain curious who just want to see it “in the wild”, this extra traffic not increases the spread of Dieback but also increases the amount damage that occurs when the number of people visiting increases.
Next time you find that elusive orchid, endangered spider think about how much detail you are willing to provide for the unknown followers.
example: The Western Australian Department conservation addressed these concerns when a new species of Banksia was discovered. 10 years on the only indication of where to find the species is a vague location approxiamatley 50km south east of Mt Magnet on a nature reserve and a sheep station with a combined area of around 500sqkm. Yeah you could work it out, you could even just explore the whole area but it took 100 years of settlement in the area to find it what are your chances like. They are even vague as to when it flowers saying that it flowers for a limited time but only if certain conditions occur yet they dont prescribe the conditions and the nearest public recording station is at least 50km away….