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Easter Island, Chile (November 26, 1998 - Radio Australia)---An international effort has begun to grow trees again on barren Easter Island, located between French Polynesia and the South American mainland.

The Pacific Island was once covered with foliage.

Radio Australia correspondent Michael Birt reports that Australia will help by supplying stock generated from seed propagated at Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens.

"Easter Island was once covered with the tree Sophora Toromiro. The last example there died 38 years ago. Only about 20 are known to exist in botanic gardens around the world. Eight are in Melbourne's Botanic Gardens.

"Director Richard Barley says U.S. and European gardens are also involved, but the Melbourne trees exhibit three genetic lines, an important base for the species' long term viability. 'We've had some very good striking rates particularly from cuttings and we're just cutting out some germination trials with the seed at the moment.'

"Michael Birt, Melbourne."

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