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Eradicate wild kiwifruit vines

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 – Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

Eradicate wild kiwifruit vines

Forest & Bird today recommended the eradication of wild kiwifruit vines from the Bay of Plenty region.

The call comes as the number of kiwifruit orchards confirmed to be infected with the PSA (Pseudomonas syringae pathovar actinidiae) vine disease continues to rise.

Kaimai Mamaku Campaign Chair and former Forest & Bird National President, Dr Peter Maddison, said wild kiwifruit vines should be destroyed because they could harbour the PSA bacteria.

Wild vines are invading gullies next to kiwifruit orchards Dr Maddison called on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Biosecurity to coordinate a comprehensive programme to remove them, particularly from gullies in the Te Puke area, the current centre of PSA infections.

Forest & Bird is aware of the regional council’s concern about the spread of wild kiwifruit in the catchments of the Kaimai Mamaku Ranges.

“Now is an ideal opportunity to eradicate these vines and reinstate the areas as native wildlife corridors,” Dr Maddison said.

“We recognise that the wilding kiwifruit are mainly the green variety, rather than the initially infected gold variety, but we believe the wild vines could still act as reservoirs for re-infestation of kiwifruit orchards.”

Forest & Bird also hopes that MAF officials will investigate any introductions of other species of the kiwifruit plant family for signs of PSA. These may have been introduced either for research or for growing by gardeners, as some other species are grown as ornamental climbers.

Dr Maddison is no stranger to biosecurity issues. In May 1999, he discovered the first outbreak of the painted apple moth in the suburb of Glendene, Auckland.

Forest & Bird’s Kaimai Mamaku campaign aims to restore the native animal and plant life in the Bay of Plenty’s Kaimai Mamaku ranges, the largest continuous tract of forest in the upper North Island.

ENDS

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