18,000 Elms Surveyed in Dutch Elm Disease Eradication Programme

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 immediately."

"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



Last Updated: 01 October 2010

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