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9 May 2003
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is confident that with extra
effort, dutch elm disease can be eradicated in Auckland, Director Forest
Biosecurity Peter Thomson said today.
Dutch elm disease (Ophiostoma novo-ulmi) is a fungus that kills elms. The
fungus is mainly spread by the vector beetle Scolytus multistriatus.
'The targeted eradication programme has meant that now we are dealing with
just a few isolated areas with low levels of infection. These hotspots have been
centred on the Waikumete cemetery and Murvale reserve.
"We have adopted an intensive programme of surveying and removal of
infected trees in these areas.
"The wider programme has involved surveying around 18,000 trees in the
Auckland area three times a year during the summer. This sort of intensive
surveillance and monitoring means that if we find an infestation we can act
"Overseas and New Zealand elm experts agree that eradication of this
disease can be achieved but it must be completed in the next two years or the
long-term prognosis for eradication is not good," Peter Thomson said.
Internationally dutch elm disease had caused widespread devastation of elms.
If left unchecked it would rapidly spread throughout New Zealand.
If eradication is not achieved in the next two years the local councils are
likely to be required to bear the full costs of controlling the disease to
minimise its impact on these popular amenity trees.
"MAF has also been alerted to some new plantings of elms on private
properties. We believe that some residents have been sourcing elms from internet
suppliers. This is illegal under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The ban on planting
elms will remain in force until the vegetation control relating to elms is
lifted. To limit the risk of spreading the disease we also ask that residents
don't store elm firewood over winter," Peter Thomson said.
For further information contact: MAF Biosecurity Authority communications
adviser Tina Nixon Ph 0-27-223 2789