Threat to Kauri Forest

(Published on 13th December 2011)

Kauri makes a dramatic contribution to the forests of the Upper North Island and majestic kauri trees are a key feature of Auckland’s parks and reserves, towering above the canopy and giving life to a distinctive ecosystem.

The remaining great trees have survived a history of logging and clearance, but now face another threat from kauri dieback disease, a soil-borne disease killing trees of all ages and sizes in Auckland and Northland. One of the areas affected in Auckland is the Awhitu Peninsula, which has sick trees on both council and private land.

Awhitu Peninsula Landcare has been one of the community groups leading the charge in the area working with the Auckland Council and Department of Conservation in raising awareness about the deadly disease. They have written to the Government and taken local MP Dr Paul Hutchison to see the deadly disease in the area.

“We’ve tried to get it in front of people’s minds as much as we can,” says Tricia Aspin, a member of Awhitu Peninsula Landcare. “We have put up signs and made publications and tried as much as we can to make people aware of it and what they need to do to help stop it spreading.”

“Kauri are a such a keystone part of the forest, it has a huge impact when a kauri is sick or dies, says Awhitu Peninsula Landcare planting coordinator Adam Scattergood. “We are very keen to stop the disease spreading any more on the Awhitu Peninsula, and elsewhere.”

Dr Nick Waipara from the Auckland Council Biosecurity team states, “The groups out there in the community have a big part to play in spreading the word about kauri dieback.” He says the disease is serious, but the message is simple. “This disease is soil-borne and can be spread by people on shoes and equipment. Everyone working in or visiting kauri forest should make sure their footwear and equipment is clean of soil when they arrive at kauri forest and clean it again when they leave.”

“For instance, the Hunua Ranges so far are free of disease, so it’s essential that anyone visiting this healthy forest has clean shoes and equipment when they arrive,” says Nick. "Hopefully we can find a cure. Kauri is a taonga, a national treasure and the giant of the forest. It would be a tragedy to lose it from the landscape.”

Visit www.kauridieback.co.nz for more information.

Article based on material submitted by Amanda Peart, Biosecurity Contractor, Auckland Council.

 

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