Kauri dieback concerns

Posted on December 11, 2013

Imagine living in New Zealand with no large kauri trees left alive in our forests.

The kauri is a New Zealand national icon and a taonga (treasure) of great significance to Maori. An entire ecosystem depends on this species, as do local forests and park users and tourists alike. And while we so much value these magnificent trees, they are dying at an alarming rate.

Kauri dieback, a soil borne fungal disease, is killing our kauri in areas of Auckland and Northland. This disease is spread mainly through soil movement, particularly on footwear, and on equipment and bicycle tyres. The microscopic spores kill the fibrous roots. Symptoms of an infected tree include yellowing of the foliage, leaf loss, thinning of the canopy, dead branches, and lesions on the trunk which bleed sap. Infected kauri eventually succumb to the disease and die.

Although this disease may have been in New Zealand for some time (up to 60 years), our kauri does not seem to have much (if any) natural resistance. Kauri dieback has now been identified in forests from Great Barrier Island, in the Auckland region and in Northland.

What is being done about it?

At this point in time, scientists are trying to get a better understanding of this disease and develop methods for its control, including the control of unwanted animal pests living in the forests. In the meantime, we as an industry can make the public more aware of its existence and promote ways to minimise contamination. To contain this disease and protect our kauri forests for future generations we need to create greater awareness.

Everyone visiting a kauri forest should clean their footwear, tyres and equipment before and after forest visits. When walking through a forest, stick to marked tracks and walkways and stay off the roots of kauri trees.

For further information go to www.kauridieback.co.nz.