The disease chestnut blight was first detected near Eurobin in the Ovens Valley in September 2010. Further surveillance detected the disease on a number of other properties in the Ovens Valley in Victoria's north east.
This outbreak was the first time chestnut blight had been detected in Australia and impacted significantly on the local chestnut industry which is worth over $8 million annually to the Victorian economy.
Previous outbreaks of chestnut blight overseas have spread rapidly, with the disease severely impacting chestnut industries and chestnut and oak tree forests in Europe, Asia and the United States of America.
Agriculture Victoria has been working with affected growers and the national chestnut industry to eradicate the disease from Australia.
Agriculture Victoria has inspected over 100,000 trees annually and removed more than 5,000 diseased and at-risk chestnut trees from in and around infected chestnut groves since the outbreak was reported.
Suspect oak trees have also been removed from nearby infected chestnut groves as they were very likely to have been infected with chestnut blight and, as such, posed a threat to the successful eradication of the disease.
Nearly two years passed without a detection of the disease, until July 2016 when a single infected tree was found near the original outbreak area. The infected tree and surrounding trees were subsequently removed and burnt on site.
The 2016 detection of chestnut blight means that property surveillance in targeted areas within the Ovens Valley Restricted Area (see Market access information and material movement restrictions) will continue until early August 2018. After this date a submission will be made for area freedom and if successful current restrictions will be lifted. If however there are further detections of chestnut blight in the meantime, this will trigger an immediate review of the Chestnut Blight Response Plan at the national level.
All of the originally infected properties are now considered to be free of chestnut blight. Owners of these properties have undergone an enforced fallow period and many chestnut growers have been authorised to re-plant their chestnut orchards.Agriculture Victoria's eradication program remains in place and includes monitoring and surveillance to eliminate the disease on remaining properties and ensure no new outbreaks occur. Work is also underway to monitor chestnut grower compliance with movement restrictions on chestnut material and equipment.
Chestnut blight is a declared exotic disease. If you suspect that you have found chestnut blight symptoms (see About chestnut blight for common symptoms), report it to Agriculture Victoria by phoning free call 136 186. Growers can send photographs of suspicious symptoms to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call for a free and confidential examination of the suspect tree.
Chestnut growers please note: Do not collect samples of suspected chestnut blight. Avoid any contact with the tree that is exhibiting symptoms, as handling could spread the disease.