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Davis: Threat Of Kauri Rot Potentially Disastrous

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Kelvin Davis
Kelvin Davis

26 January 2009 - Labour biosecurity spokesperson Kelvin Davis says the Government may need to consider more drastic action to arrest the spread of the newly-identified disease known as Kauri dieback or Kauri rot (Phytophthora taxon agathis or PTA) if New Zealand is to prevent an ecological disaster.

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, the Conservation Department and four regional councils set up a joint response team in November last year to identify and manage the risks to kauri, but Kelvin Davis says the spread of the disease is clearly continuing across half a dozen areas across the top of the North Island.

"The spread of Kauri rot around northern parts of New Zealand threatens the existence of not just kauri trees themselves, but possibly the whole forest ecosystem.

"You can't have a giant canopy tree such as the kauri disappear from the forest without any effect on other parts of the ecosystem."

Kelvin Davis said it was encouraging to learn that officials were now saying they would be prepared to close parks if necessary to protect the kauri, but "the public has very little idea how it can help in this battle.

"There is very little advice from the Government on how the public can minimise the chances of spreading the disease," he said.

"There are basic precautions that people can take --- such as sticking to defined tracks in kauri parks, washing and spraying footwear before entering and after leaving parks, and avoiding disturbing the roots of kauri trees. All these actions may help, but how well visitors to parks understand this is debatable to say the least.

"Tane Mahuta stands as one of the most powerful symbols of our heritage. I am sure visitors to native bush want to play their part in preventing the spread of this disease, but they need to know how they can help.

"The Government needs to take urgent action to ensure more New Zealanders and overseas visitors understand just what they can do to ensure the kauri remains a living symbol."

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