An endangered species of mangrove previously found only in Asia has been discovered in far north Queensland.
About 50 haines orange mangrove trees have been found at Trinity Inlet, near Cairns.
The discovery, by Japan-born local Hidetoshi Kudo, has instantly increased their numbers by 20 per cent. Only 200 were previously known to be left in the world.
Cairns and Far North Environment Centre president Denis Walls said “citizen scientist” Mr Kudo had also identified another species in the same area, the reflexed orange mangrove, which was believed to been found only north of Cooktown.
“This is a significant development in its own right,” he said.
“It was 250km further south than it has ever been found.”
Mr Walls said the Cairns environmental community was in a state of excitement over the announcements.
“One of the significant outcomes of discoveries like these is their importance in drawing attention to the incredible biological diversity that exists in Far North Queensland,” he said.
James Cook University international mangrove scientist Norman Duke confirmed the existence of the new species.
Dr Duke said Mr Kudo’s observations were even more remarkable given he and other experts had studied the mangroves at Trinity Inlet before but never found these species.
Dr Duke called for the haines orange mangroves to be protected under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
“This will be of particular significance in adding greater appreciation and value to Trinity Inlet mangroves, and for the better protection of fragile wetlands everywhere,” he said.
The haines orange mangroves are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation and Natural Resources.
Both types of trees are believed to be between 100 and 200 years old.
Mr Walls said they were noticed by Mr Kudo because they were flowering.
“These trees are quite distinctive and very big,” he said.