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our place Kauri need our help


Kauri dieback disease is probably the most significant issue currently affecting the Titirangi and Waitakere Ranges environment. Many beautiful kauri trees are gradually dying: many are already dead. MELS BARTON asks what is kauri dieback and what can we do to stop it spreading?


What is kauri dieback?


(Phytophthora


Kauri dieback taxon


Agathis) is a fungus-like disease that is specific to kauri and kills trees of all ages and sizes. It is spread mainly through soil movement on equipment such as footwear,


and mountain bikes. Scientists are working on the problem but there cure


is at no this


nearly every infected tree eventually dies. The disease is killing


the kauri forests in the Waitakere Ranges area: over 11% of trees are infected and thousands of trees have already died. However, there are still many areas that remain uninfected and these need our protection to survive.


Where is it found?


Kauri dieback has been found in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, on private land throughout the Auckland region, in the forest plantations of Omahuta, Glenbervie and Russell in Northland, and in Department of Conservation reserves at Okura, Albany, Pakiri, Great Barrier, Trounson Kauri Park and Waipoua Forest (home of the iconic kauri - Tane Mahuta) in Northland. In March 2014, kauri dieback was also found in bush on the Coromandel Peninsula and work is underway to determine the extent of this infection. At this stage, the disease has not been detected in many areas of Northland forest, the Hunua Ranges and Hauraki Gulf Islands (excluding Great Barrier). It is imperative that we protect these uninfected areas.


Where has it come from? Spores of kauri dieback were first discovered along with sick kauri on Great Barrier Island in the 1970s. Identification methods at the time led to these samples being misclassified as a morphologically similar species and kauri dieback was not formally identified until April 2008. Its closest known relative is a chestnut pathogen from Taiwan (Phytophthora katsurae). Its origin and time of arrival in New Zealand are still unknown, but evidence suggests it was introduced from overseas in the 1950s.


What is being done?


Research is currently underway to provide a full biological description and identify the source of the disease. A variety of control tools are being tested on private land, including injecting diseased trees on the Colin McCahon Cottage property with phosphite in an attempt to slow the progress of the disease. (Two trees on this property died in early 2012 and were removed from the cottage grounds.)


machinery


Other control methods such as heat treatment to sterilise equipment are also being tested by researchers.


Other research includes how the disease spreads, the role of feral pigs, where the disease is in the trunk of the tree and how it spreads in water.


known time –


What can I do? The most effective way to control kauri dieback is to stop it spreading.


Tracks have been closed and scrub and spray stations installed on a very large number of tracks. It is up to all members of the public to help to stop the spread of the disease and to protect kauri that are still healthy so we can keep kauri standing in the West for future generations. Scrub and spray every time you pass a cleaning station – and that includes your dog, your bike, your horse and your vehicle as well as your feet.


Note: The Waitakere Ranges Local Board is supporting the Auckland Council Biosecurity team in engaging a contractor to coordinate a comprehensive community engagement project in the Waitakere Ranges area as part of the Auckland Council kauri dieback programme. Interviews for the position took place in November and the person appointed will be networking with groups and individuals across the Ranges to support them in the fight to save our kauri.


Visit http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/environmentwaste/ pestsdiseases/Pages/kauridiebackhome.aspx or http://www.kauridieback.co.nz/ for more information.


10 The Fringe DECEMBER 2014 – JANUARY 2015


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