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Tuesday 25 March 2003
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is taking the advice of the
consultative group it convened in Auckland just over two weeks ago and will
"keep its options open" before deciding whether the gum leaf
skeletoniser (Uraba lugens) can be eradicated or not.
"Since we received the surveillance report showing this unwanted pest
was being detected on eucalypt trees over a wide area of southern Auckland we
have initiated a whole suite of work, both operational and scientific, to ensure
we can keep on top of this pest," said Peter Thomson, MAF's Director of
"We have retained eradication as a possible goal. Is eradication
feasible? We don't know that yet. Is it affordable? We don't know that yet
either. The pest has spread over a large area. We can't mount a major
eradication campaign lightly. During this time of year, when the moth is less
active, we need to be getting our response on to a firm footing."
"The planning phase of a biosecurity response is of the utmost
importance - we need to take the time to gather an adequate amount of
information to base our decision making on.
"Impact assessments take time, we need a few months to complete host
testing on native tree species and we have to get more information from the
science team to determine likely rate of spread. Having said that we are also
going to do everything we possibly can 'on the ground' to ensure that we don't
lose the prospect of getting rid of the gum leaf skeletoniser. Right now, our
aim is to contain it to its current location."
"No new sites have been reported since 7 March, which is good news.
Ground spraying of outlying infested trees in public places has been
"This week will be our busiest yet. A further delimiting survey out to
100km is scheduled to be completed, more intensive host tree identification
within South Auckland will commence, an interim operational headquarters is
being established and field testing of a new pheromone for an extensive trapping
grid will continue.
A meeting with staff from Auckland councils is also scheduled for this week.
"We'll be talking with them about future ground spraying and removal of
problem trees, and establishing a collaborative course of action for the late
autumn, winter months and early spring months when the next generation of
caterpillars will be active," said Mr Thomson.
"MAF appreciates the support it is getting from councils and the
opportunity this presents for keeping Aucklanders informed of the progress we
are making in partnership with councils.
"While it will take time to answer all the questions we have, it is fair
to say that we have made some significant and encouraging progress towards
containing the gum leaf skeletoniser".
For further information contact:
Peter Thomson or Director, Forest Biosecurity Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Tel: (04) 498 9639 Stephen
Olsen MAF Corporate Communications Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Tel:(04) 470 2753 or (025) 977 028
· A surveillance map (.jpg) is available on request.