North shore branch helps in effort to halt kauri dieback disease

27 Apr 2012

 Kauri dieback disease has proven to be so highly transmissible officials in the Auckland region have ordered the closure of tracks in several major regional parks and reserves. 

The fungus-like disease has established itself in kauri forests in the North Shore, the Waitakare Ranges, Hunua Ranges, Great Barrier Island and Northland forests. 

The pathogen is spread through contaminated soil and water movement between trees. 

This can occur through bird and animal activity, however the main cause of spread is people walking and cycling in areas surrounding kauri trees. 

Drastic measures are now being put in place to contain its spread. 

Forest & Bird’s North Shore branch has been working alongside the Auckland Council to halt the spread of the disease by erecting signs and maintaining boot-cleaning stations at three North Shore reserves -  Kauri Glen, Kauri Park and Fernglen in Birkenhead.

“Kauri dieback has the potential to destroy thousands of mature kauri throughout Auckland. This would be a huge loss, keenly felt by many people who treasure our natural world” said North Shore branch chairperson Richard Hursthouse. 

Already an estimated 1,000 kauri have been affected by the disease, and action is being taken to protect kauri forests in other parts of Auckland. 

One hundred and eighty boot cleaning stations were installed in the Waitakare Ranges, but as many trampers ignored them, further action is required to protect kauri in this area.

As of July 1st, the Department of Conservation will close 27km of tracks in the Waitakare Ranges, with similar work being done in the Hunua Ranges. 

No public access will be allowed in these 13 “kauri protection zones”, in the Cascade Kauri, Anawhata, Waiatarua, Piha, Karekare, Huia and Parau areas.

 DOC will review the situation and consider re-opening the tracks in a year's time.

Auckland’s oldest and largest kauri forest covers six hundred and eighty hectares in Matai reserve, near the Hunua Ranges, and includes one tree which is estimated to be eight hundred years old.

The Matai Conservation Area remains unaffected by kauri dieback, and in order to ensure that the forest is protected, DOC has closed the entire reserve until 2017. 

The decision to close tracks was made following positive feedback from iwi, local residents, the Manukau Tramping Club and other interested parties.

“We look at each area of kauri that we manage and develop a plan that will be effective in managing the kauri dieback issues that relate to that particular area of forest” says DOC’s Auckland Area Manager Brett Butland. 

 Closing the reserve for five years may seem drastic, but it is a decision that DOC believes is necessary to protect the Matai forest. 

“Closing the tracks will protect this significant kauri forest from being infected with this deadly disease” says Butland.

Symptoms of kauri dieback include yellowing foliage, leaf loss and lesions on the trunk which bleed resin, which can extend to the roots and circle the trunk as “collar rot”.  

All trees that have become infected with kauri dieback have succumbed to the fatal disease. 

Unless the spread of kauri dieback is stopped Auckland risks losing its kauri forests altogether.