Kauri Dieback update

In light of Maratoto being closed down (as per NZ4WDA newsletter and notice), NZ4Wheeling swapped some correspondence to update our previous Kauri Dieback disease article posted in early 2017.

NZ4wda have informed the 4×4 community that  All off road tracks in the Maratoto area are now CLOSED to ALL vehicles. This includes the Whangamata (Wires) Track, Loop Road, Waipaheke and all tracks off these tracks. This closure is by order of the Department of Conservation and is due to Kauri Die Back.

DOCs spokeperson states that New Zealand’s kauri remain under threat from dieback disease – but 4-wheel-drive enthusiasts can help protect these trees for future generations.

John Sanson, Manager Recovery and Pest Management at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), says it is vital for anyone visiting forests that have kauri to take personal responsibility and follow good bio-security practices. “It’s really important for people to keep clear of kauri root zones whether they’re on foot or driving vehicles – the roots can grow outwards three times further than the branches,” says Mr Sanson.

“Because the disease is moved in soil, vehicles should be clean and free of soil before entering forest areas, and thoroughly cleaned when leaving or as soon as possible after. It’s also important to clean footwear and any other gear that you use in the forest. Never assume an area with kauri is free of the disease.” Mr Sanson added that if possible, people should make use of forests and other recreational parks that do not have kauri present.

MPI leads the National Kauri Dieback Programme, providing overall coordination of the national response for the disease. Regional management of operations is the responsibility of councils and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

In December last year, Auckland Council closed a number of tracks in the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park to increase protection against kauri dieback. Similarly, in March DOC temporarily closed tracks in the Goldie Bush Scenic Reserve. Further to these closures, Auckland Council has proposed to close the forested areas within the Waitākere Ranges, and several tracks in the Hunua Ranges Regional Park, and a final decision will be made in early April and changes will be implemented from 1 May 2018.

DOC is also considering further track closures. Some that will be assessed over coming weeks are in Coromandel’s Maratoto area, including one used by 4-wheel-drives. Considerations include kauri protection, kauri dieback risk, track usage, the cost of mitigation, and recreation opportunities. Local DOC offices will then consult directly with local iwi/hapu and key stakeholders in their areas regarding any proposed mitigations, including track closures.

New measures

Mr Sanson says new measures to give greater protection for kauri are coming into effect. Earlier this year the Kauri Dieback Programme partners agreed to put in place a Controlled Area Notice (‘CAN’) for kauri dieback under the Biosecurity Act.  “While a CAN cannot ban people from going into a particular area, it does put a legal requirement on them to follow correct hygiene standards – like cleaning footwear and other equipment – when accessing open tracks or forest areas that have kauri. Our aim is to make these safeguards as easy as possible to follow,” says Mr Sanson.

Work on preparing the CAN is underway and programme partners are deciding the details of how and where it will be initially implemented.

More information about dieback disease and how you can help protect kauri can be found at www.kauridieback.co.nz

NZ4Wheeling has asked for clarification on the new measures above, additionally when NZ4wheeling asked about how long the closures would last for (given that the disease has a 6 year dormant life span where it can remain dormant in the soil). NZ4Wheeling believes that hypothetically it could be as long as a 6 year minimum closure if the diseases lifespan is for that long (only if the infected trees have been cleared safely).

Background to kauri dieback disease

 Kauri dieback is found in the upper North Island and can kill kauri trees of all ages. It’s a disease caused by a microscopic fungus-like organism called Phytophthora agathidicida – ‘PA’. It lives in the soil and infects kauri roots, damaging the tissues that carry nutrients and water within the tree – effectively starving it to death.

  • An infected kauri may have: yellowing leaves; a thinning canopy (the leafy, top part of the tree); dead branches; and large lesions (areas of damage) near the base of the tree that bleed resin. However, infected trees may not show any symptoms during early-stage infection and some never develop trunk lesions.

Incidently – The Molesworth Consultation Survey is closing soon. The Survey is part of DoC’s consultation with the public about the future of Molesworth, prior to the expiry of the current farming lease in 2020. Have your say at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Molesworthconsultation

Please email us or pm us on our facebook page if you have any updates or thoughts around this.

Related to: http://nz4wheeling.com/2017/01/phytophthora-taxon-agathis-aka-kauri-dieback/

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