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Forest Industry to test response systems

29 September 2005

Forest Industry to test response systems

A three-day simulation exercise to test MAF’s and the forest industry’s response to an incursion of the pitch canker disease will take place from 5 to 7 October 2005 at a commercial pine seedling nursery in Tokoroa.

This is the first time such an exercise has been undertaken by MAF in conjunction with the forestry industry.

Pitch canker is a disease specific to pine trees and Douglas fir with potentially serious implications for New Zealand forests. Under a high impact scenario the damage to New Zealand’s commercial forests and economy over a 35 year period has been estimated to be in the vicinity of $267 million. The disease was intercepted in New Zealand at a MAF approved quarantine facility in 2003 on Douglas fir cuttings from the USA.

Biosecurity New Zealand Senior Adviser Mark Ross, says the simulation exercise will rigorously test New Zealand’s response to pitch canker and ensure the capability exists to respond to an incursion in a commercial forest environment.

Representatives from forest companies, nurseries and MAF service providers will be involved in the training exercise. The overall objective is to operationalise the pitch canker response plan and fully test industry systems in preparedness for an incursion.

“The exercise is also an opportunity to forge vital relationships between Biosecurity New Zealand, commercial forestry and service providers, whilst clarifying roles and responsibilities,” said Mark Ross.

The pitch canker response simulation is part of the MAF Plants Exotic Disease and Pest Response Programme, and is a contracted agreement between AgriQuality and MAF.

Biosecurity New Zealand will be responsible for the overall co-ordination of the simulation and AgriQuality will manage the site simulation and coordinate all field activities. Representatives from the Forest Owners Association, Forest Research, Farm Forestry Association and Local Authorities have been invited to participate in the simulation as observers.

ENDS

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