New tree species discovered in Binningup

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Southern Seawater Desalination plant environmental engineer Grant Griffith shows Watercorporation South West Regional Manager John Jansen the newly discovered species of accacia.
Camera IconSouthern Seawater Desalination plant environmental engineer Grant Griffith shows Watercorporation South West Regional Manager John Jansen the newly discovered species of accacia. Credit: Jon Gellweiler/Jon Gellweiler

After years of scientific investigation, botanists have confirmed the discovery of a new species of acacia tree in Binningup.

Workers made the discovery by chance during extensive regeneration work carried out around the Water Corporation’s Southern Seawater Desalination Plant back in 2015.

The Water Corporation commissioned botanists Geoff Cockerton and Kevin Thiele in 2016 and 2017 to search for other populations of the acacia to confirm the new species, with the search stretching through the bushlands from Yanchep to Albany.

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 new species, rather than a variation.

“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,” Mr Janssen said.

Desalination plant environmental engineer Grant Griffith said the botanists’ work at the site had revealed other discoveries which could lead to more new species being declared.

“Out of this work they think there could be five or six new species,” he said. He said one of the Acacia sp. Binningup plants could be more than 100 years old.

Harvey shire president Tania Jackson, who is also a member of the desalination plant’s Community Reference Group, 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.

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