the Wollemi Pine
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Welcome to the ninth edition of the Wollemi Watch, a quarterly newsletter for Wollemi Pine enthusiasts everywhere.

It has been an exciting few months with the global launch and auction of the First Generation Collectors Edition Wollemi Pines. In this edition we report on the success of the launch and also announce the opportunity for Australian based Wollemi Pine Conservation Club Members to place an advance order for a Wollemi Pine for the April 2006 release. We reveal the progress of plans to import the Wollemi to New Zealand, profile a key player on the Wollemi Pine Recovery Team and present the latest information on the updated Recovery Plan and "critical habitat" recommendation.

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Newsflash:  Wollemi Pine Auction Success Newsflash: Wollemi Pine Auction Success

The launch and auction of the Collectors Edition Wollemi Pines was a great success and a fitting tribute to 11 years of research and conservation work. Thousands of Wollemi enthusiasts visited the "Wollemi Pine Wilderness Unveiled" exhibition at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens (Oct 14-23) and the Sotheby's auction was unprecedented with 100% of the 292 trees sold and over A$1,000,000 raised.

The highlight of the auction was the A$150,000 paid for the "Sir Joseph Banks Collection", a selection of 15 trees with each tree grown from one of each of the 15 original trees in the wild from which cuttings were taken. The average price for a single tree was approximately A$3,600.

The sale also raised significant funds for a number of conservation organisations in Australia and internationally, in particular the A$26,000 raised for the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and A$14,000 for the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute.

The majority of purchasers were private collectors with stately homes and gardens around Australia. About 10% of the trees were bought by overseas purchasers, mostly within the UK. A number of botanic gardens in Australia and internationally were gifted Wollemi Pines by generous benefactors. The Collectors Edition Pines were also popular among universities, colleges, and hospitals for commemorative plantings and as special gifts.

Sotheby's Chairman Justin Miller dubbed the auction the second only "white glove" sale ever in Australia - meaning all lots were sold. "It was an electric atmosphere at the auction with hundreds of bidders from Australia and around the world competing for the coveted Pines," said Mr Miller. "Like the discovery of the Wollemi Pine, the sale will go down in history as a truly remarkable event."

The "Wollemi Pine Wilderness Unveiled Exhibit" was designed by Australia's pre-eminent urban design and landscape architecture firm, EDAW Gillespies, with the construction managed by multi award winning landscape design and construction company, Above the Earth. Together with the timber boardwalk provided by Landmark and the support of Galuku (a distributor of premium cocopeat products) and other generous industry sponsors, the Exhibit was a tribute to the natural setting of the Pines in the Blue Mountains and their prehistoric past.

Sotheby's auction catalogues are still available as souvenirs of the historic event. The catalogue is a 64 page colour magazine that details all 148 lots sold at the October 23 auction. As many of the lots are named after famous past and present scientists and naturalists, the catalogue is a fascinating documentary of plant collecting and natural history.

To purchase the cataloguelink
To view the auction lots soldlink
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Behind  the Scenes with David Crust Behind the Scenes with David Crust

David Crust manages over 350 000 hectares of protected lands, including the Wollemi National Park, for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in Mudgee.

David is also on the Wollemi Pine Recovery Team and oversees the bi-annual scientific research visits to the wild population of Wollemi Pines.

Working in National Parks for over 20 years, David has been involved in the full range of bush conservation duties from biodiversity research and pest management to mapping and cultural heritage. David's area of expertise is fire management. He represents the NPWS on various fire committees and worked as an Air Attack Supervisor and Divisional Commander on major forest wildfires throughout Northern California and Central Oregon USA in 2002.

While fire is a potential threat to the wild population of Wollemi Pines, David believes humans carrying disease on their footwear is the most serious threat of all. David's responsibility of managing access to the site is crucial to the species' survival in its natural habitat.

David has been involved in drafting the recommendation to declare the wild population of the Wollemi Pines, 1% of the Wollemi National Park, as "critical habitat" (see the story below on the Wollemi Pine Recovery Plan Update).

Naturally David is a keen bushwalker. He also enjoys alpine skiing and sailing.

Stay tuned to hear more about people like David who are behind the scenes in the conservation of the Wollemi Pine.
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Australians can now advance order Wollemi Pines Australians can now advance order Wollemi Pines

Prices and ordering details for the general release of the ancient and rare Wollemi Pine are now available. A range of plants will be available from April 2006, however advance ordering will guarantee availability. This is your chance finally to secure your own living fossil.

"A Wollemi Pine will make a unique special occasion or Christmas gift or a gift for the person who has everything," said Barbara McGeoch, General Manager of Wollemi Pine International. "Our aim with this general release has been to ensure we have a range of affordably priced Wollemi Pines for all who wish to care for one."

The two available sizes are a 150mm pot size (approx. 40cm tall plant) and a 200mm pot size (approx. 60cm tall plant) with RRPs from A$55 and A$95 respectively.

The Wollemi Pine, the ultimate survivor, has proven to be hardy and versatile in cultivation. It is not only attractive and striking in appearance, it is easy to grow and low maintenance. It will adapt to a diverse range of climatic zones, thriving in full sun to semi-shaded outdoor positions.
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The Wollemi Pine will make an ideal feature tree for large gardens and parklands, but can also be maintained in a pot on patios, verandahs and in courtyards. It can be used as indoor decoration in well lit areas and tolerates air-conditioning.

Ordering can be done at any one of the 100+ stockists in Australia, via mail order, fax and phone (1-800-WOLLEM) as well as online.
Place order nowlink

Anyone who orders a Wollemi Pine will receive an authentication/gift certificate and care booklet - the plant will then be delivered by 1 April 2006 in time for the national release.

Wollemi Pine Conservation Club Members advance orders will be handled prior to the general release and delivered at the end of March.

Royalties from the sale of the Wollemi Pine will be invested in the conservation of the Pine and other rare and threatened plant species.

Residents of the USA, UK, Europe, Japan, Korea or New Zealand: We will be announcing availability of the Wollemi Pine in your countries in the coming months. In the meantime, please stay in touch and join our Wollemi Pine Conservation Clublink
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The Wollemi Pine to become NZ's first imported plant in 7 years The Wollemi Pine to become NZ's first imported plant in 7 years

The Wollemi Pine is set to become the first new registered plant in New Zealand since 1998 with the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA New Zealand) approving the importation of the ancient and rare species, a close relative to New Zealand's own Kauri. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) protocols are yet to be finalised but it is expected that New Zealanders will soon be able to acquire their own Wollemi Pines.

This comes at an exciting time as the global launch of the ancient and rare Wollemi Pine was celebrated recently at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens and culminated in the successful auction of 292 First Generation Collectors Edition Wollemi Pines which raised over A$1,000,000 with an average of A$3,600 a tree.

In addition to royalties from the auction funding the conservation of the Wollemi Pine and other rare and threatened plant species, proceeds from selected auction lots were donated to Australian and international conservation organisations. The proceeds of A$16,000 from Lot 25, 'The Given Collection', named after New Zealand-born plant conservationist and curator of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens David Given, will go to the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network.

"We are extremely excited to be introducing the Wollemi Pine to New Zealand. This rare, precious and unique tree has been likened to discovering a dinosaur alive and we are delighted that New Zealanders will now be able to enjoy this ancient wonder," said David Given.

Joining the Wollemi Pine Conservation Club registers your interest in purchasing a Wollemi Pine when they are released in
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Fact File: Wollemi Pine Recovery Plan Update Fact File: Wollemi Pine Recovery Plan Update

The population of endangered Wollemi Pines is the only known population in the world, and protection is fundamental to the survival of the species in the wild. The recently updated Wollemi Pine Recovery Plan identifies conservation actions over the next five years. Key to the success of the Recovery Plan, is the recommendation to declare the area, 1% of the Wollemi National Park, a "critical habitat".

A map of the area would only be published if the threat from unauthorised visits significantly increases. This would activate the regulation, and visitation to the area, marked by signage, would become an offence.

It is currently an offence to "damage" Wollemi Pine habitat or 'pick' the wild trees at any time, carrying a penalty of up to $110,000 and/or 1 year in jail or $220,000 and/or two years jail respectively.

Major threats to the Wollemi Pine other than fire and climate change is a soil borne fungal like disease that can be carried in by humans called Phytophthora. There is concern currently as the latest tests have shown that an individual tree in the wild has been infected by Phytophthora cinnamomi. However, measures are being put in place to try to stem the spread of this threatening disease.

The Recovery Plan will be on public exhibition for eight weeks after which time the Minister for the Environment will consider public submissions before finalising the Plan.

View the updated Wollemi Pine Recovery Planlink

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Photos: Anna Kalinowska, Warren Field/Australian Geographic and Jaime Plaza. Subsribe Send to a friend Join the Wollemi Pine Conservation Club
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