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Wake-up call for Coromandel kauri preservation

Wake-up call for Coromandel kauri preservation

Recent publicity about the dire state of kauri in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges Regional Park (WRRP) is a real wake-up call for the Coromandel, says a local volunteer group battling to protect the spread of kauri dieback disease on the Peninsula. The Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum says talk that kauri could well become extinct in some locations shows just how serious the problem is.

The total kauri area infected with the disease in the Waitakere Ranges has more than doubled in in the five years from 2011 to 2016, with over 23 percent confirmed or assessed as possibly infected. However, the Auckland Council says it is even more significant that a third of all distinct kauri areas and over 58% of distinct kauri areas larger than five hectares have been shown to be affected by kauri dieback disease, because there is currently no proven method to prevent the natural movement of the disease once it has been introduced into an area of kauri.

“We are fortunate on the Coromandel in that there is only a small number of infected sites,” says Forum spokesperson Vivienne McLean. “Even so, Peninsula kauri are at risk from locals transferring the disease around different forests on the Peninsula, and from the disease being “imported” in soil on footwear, bike tyres, machinery and other equipment coming in from infected areas via visitors to our region.”

“The Coromandel has significant stands of kauri, natural and planted, that currently show no signs of infection. As individuals we need to do everything we can to keep things that way. With the link between people and the spread of the infection very clear, how we all choose to behave around kauri will make the difference in whether this iconic species survives or not.”

The message is simple, says the Forum:

• Clean your footwear and any gear that carries soil at home, by scrubbing off all soil with very hot soapy water then spraying with disinfectant – and do this both before and after every visit to a forest where there are kauri.

• If there is a cleaning station always use it, going in and coming out, even if you already cleaned your gear at home.

• Always use the tracks and stay off kauri roots (even if you have sprayed your footwear) because you can still spread infection and damage fine feeder roots.

DOC is progressively upgrading the most popular tracks on the Peninsula over the next six months to better protect vulnerable kauri. However people using unformed tracks or pig hunting in areas of native bush need to be extra careful to clean their gear and avoid kauri, especially at this time of year when the soil can be very muddy, increasing the risk of soil transfer. People walking dogs or riding mountain bikes in native forests also need to follow some basic processes to protect kauri. Similarly, wandering pigs and cattle near kauri areas remain a problem, and cannot continue to be left unaddressed.

The good news is that surveys undertaken by the Forum at key Peninsula tracks last summer showed that levels of awareness about kauri dieback were high compared to previous Auckland surveys, and attitudes towards protecting kauri were very positive. Use of cleaning stations was also reasonably encouraging, with 73% of people observed entering and 67% of those observed exiting tracks using the cleaning station correctly (both scrubbing and spraying).

The survey, funded by the Waikato Regional Council’s Environmental Initiatives Fund, was done at the Waiau Kauri Grove, the Kauri Trail, Kauaeranga Valley, Whenuakite Block/Lynch Stream, the Long Bay Kauri Walk and the Waiomu kauri track.

For more information and practical advice for different forest users go to the National Kauri Dieback Programme website www.kauridieback.com. For information about the Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum and how you can help, contact Vivienne McLean 866 5776.


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