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Forest & Bird closes kauri reserves to public

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Forest & Bird has announced it is closing all its reserves with wild kauri to the public, and is calling on the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to provide communities and land owners with desperately needed national directions for managing the disease.

Forest & Bird owns and manages seven reserves containing kauri, covering nearly 250 hectares. All these reserves are believed to be disease-free.

"MPI’s leadership of the national programme is so dire and slow that it is being left up to conservation and community groups, local councils, and iwi to try and deal with a crisis situation," says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.

Forest & Bird Waitakere branch Chairperson Annalily van den Broeke says, “Forest & Bird branches who are working on the ground to protect kauri have been left without any direction from MPI on best kauri management practice. Forest & Bird has had to put together its own Standard Operating Procedures for volunteers. We have even been approached by other councils and national organisations asking if they can use these SOPs as they are also urgently seeking guidance."

"It’s hugely concerning that there are still no official guidelines on how to build a ‘safe track’ to stop the spread of the disease. There is also no official guidance on how to continue predator control in kauri forests with and without kauri dieback.”

Mr Hague says, “I was dismayed to hear that at MPI’s recent ‘Accelerate Kauri’ meetings, although they acknowledged there are major problems with how they have run the National Kauri Dieback programme, they will not be improving or changing how it is run until the National Pest Management Plan is put in place – which is over two years away.”

“At the rate this disease is spreading, all kauri forests including the plant and animal species that rely on kauri could collapse within our lifetime unless urgent action is taken."

“We believe all healthy kauri forests must be closed as a priority until we know how to stop the spread of kauri dieback disease. The Department of Conservation has recently added kauri to the threatened species list and is currently consulting on track closures but we feel their list does not go far enough. Private landowners and reserve managers also need to protect these precious taonga through closures.”

Notes for editors:
Forest & Bird reserves with kauri ecosystems that will close to the public:

  • Morgan reserve (Waikato branch),
  • Ngaheretuku Reserve (South Auckland branch)
  • Matuku Reserve and Kerr-Taylor Reserve (Waitakere branch),
  • Onetangi reserve and Te Haahi – Goodwin Reserve (Hauraki Islands branch)
  • HB Matthews Reserve (Far North Branch)

Forest & Bird’s considers all kauri forests should be closed until:

1. All forests have been accurately surveyed to identify sick and healthy trees
2. All tracks have been audited to ascertain their ability to meet the CAN standard of "no soil on footwear"
3. Tracks have been upgraded to meet the CAN standard
4. There has been an urgent auditing of cleaning stations including determining if the hygiene measures work - evidence shows that the disease is not killed by the current disinfectant Sterigene - and a replacement disinfectant has been developed.
5. Cleaning stations that members of the public cannot avoid are placed in all  track entrances and junctions once tracks have been upgraded and hygiene stations have been deemed 100% effective in killing all spores.

Only when all five actions have been taken should tracks be reopened.

For further questions or comments, please contact:
Megan Hubscher
Senior Communications Adviser
m.hubscher@forestandbird.org.nz (mailto:m.hubscher@forestandbird.org.nz)
022 658 1166

High-res images to accompany this story are available to download here, (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ll3gc7sw80ovidf/AADFgAGRl5u4JKoTRBIl0JN0a?dl=0)

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