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Checks For Dutch Elm Disease Start In Auckland

All elm trees within the greater Auckland district will again be checked for signs of Dutch elm disease, starting today.

No new infections of the disease have been found in Auckland since the 1996/97 season, and MAF is hopeful that the 2000/01 season will yield the same result.

Overseas, the disease has wiped out elms in the United Kingdom, Europe and parts of North America.

Dutch elm disease was first reported in central Auckland in December 1989. In conjunction with Forest Research, the then Ministry of Forestry initiated a response involving the removal and destruction of any infected elms. Ongoing efforts during the past 10 years have kept the prospect of eradication alive. This would be a world first.

Further surveys are necessary before eradication can be confirmed.

On MAF's behalf, surveyors from VIGIL Forest Health Advisory Services will be visually inspecting up to 18,500 elm trees for symptoms of the disease. Visible signs of the disease are wilting branches with curled yellow and brown leaves falling from the tree prematurely. Three surveys will be conducted over a five-month period.

Meanwhile, restrictions on the removal remain in place to prevent the disease spreading. Elm material cannot be moved into, out, or around much of the Auckland region (the four Auckland cities and part of Papakura). Elm material (such as firewood) should not be stored and, if pruning elms, the branches should be clipped on site and buried or burnt.

From the start, the Dutch elm disease programme has been funded jointly by central government and the four Auckland local authorities. This season, local councils in the affected areas will fund one-third of the response.

For further information please contact: Dr Ruth Frampton, Director - Forest Biosecurity, Forest Biosecurity Group, MAF Biosecurity Authority, Phone 04 498 9639 or 025 350 801 Mark Ross, National Adviser - Forest Pest Surveillance and Response, Forest Biosecurity Group, MAF Biosecurity Authority, Phone: 04 498 9611 or 025 248 3296


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