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MPI needs to front up on kauri dieback failures

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The Ministry for Primary Industries needs to front up to New Zealanders on the dire state of their Kauri Dieback Programme, following the release of memos from MPI to their Minister.

The memos reveal MPI was aware the spread of kauri dieback was alarmingly high, that there was widespread dissatisfaction with the Kauri Dieback Programme, and that the voluntary approach underpinning the programme was failing.

The papers, obtained by Newshub, confirm Forest & Bird’s position that the programme needs ‘a fundamental change in approach’ (15 December 2017, Memo to Minister) and that it could take two years to develop a National Pest Management Plan for Kauri Dieback (15 March 2018, Cabinet paper).

“Forest & Bird has been saying all along there’s a major problem with the Kauri Dieback Programme, and now we know MPI have been telling their Minister the same thing. At the same time, they seem to want to minimise the scale of the crisis in public,” Forest & Bird CE Kevin Hague says.

"MPI’s biosecurity team have known this is a crisis situation, but this hasn’t translated into urgent actions to protect kauri forests. The disease is spreading rapidly, while research into a cure or prevention is barely progressing."

“MPI needs to be clear the current programme for controlling kauri dieback has failed, and that a fundamentally new approach is needed."

“Kauri dieback disease is 100 percent fatal to kauri trees. We know it’s mainly spread by humans and pigs. Dealing with these factors will slow the disease’s spread until scientists have worked out what will save our forests in the long term.”

Forest & Bird is calling on MPI to work with iwi and local government to put Controlled Area Notices in place, and start eradicating pigs where possible, while the National Pest Management Agency and Plan are being developed.

Forest & Bird closed their own kauri forest reserves — covering 250 hectares — last week, calling on councils, government, and private landowners to do the same until a cure for the disease is found.

Key points in briefings to Ministers (more on Newshub's website)

  • 1 December 2017: 'The Kauri Dieback Governance Group has acknowledged there is widespread dissatisfaction among stakeholders with progress to date and that change is required.'
  • 15 December 2017: Memo from MPI stated the Kauri Dieback Programme requires a 'fundamental change in approach both in terms of management and delivery, in order to successfully slow the spread of kauri dieback disease.'
  • 20 December 2017: 'Regulation has been used in a relatively minor and inconsistent way...'  'There is general acknowledgement the Kauri Dieback Programme is not delivering the protection for kauri, nor is it meeting stakeholders’ expectations.'

15 March 2018: 'There is general acknowledgement the Kauri Dieback Programme is not delivering the increased level of protection that is now required for kauri forests, nor is it meeting stakeholders’ expectations.'

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