Kauri killer important issue for many Kiwis

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

A major new survey has found an overwhelming proportion of people living in Auckland, Waikato, Northland and the Bay of Plenty consider that preventing the spread of kauri dieback is of high importance.

Almost 90% of all those surveyed by Colmar Brunton agreed that it is "important" or "very important" to manage kauri dieback, even given the other threats to kauri forests.

The survey also found that 43% of forest users are committed enough to stop kauri dieback to have asked others to take action to prevent its spread.

Sixty-seven percent of residents were found to be aware of kauri dieback, as opposed to just 31% in 2011.

However, 10% of those who said they had not been near kauri in the previous year proved to have been mistaken.

"That is a worry because kauri are common in native forests in the upper North Island," says Jay Harkness, Engagement and Communications lead for the Kauri Dieback Programme.

"So the basic message is that if you're in the upper North Island, and you're in native bush, you clean your footwear and other gear before going into a forest and before leaving it, every single time. People also need to use tracks and stick to them.

"What's also of concern is the way in which people think kauri dieback is spread. For instance, 19% of the forest users surveyed thought that dieback is spread on the wind. That's just not true," Jay Harkness says.

"While it is true that kauri dieback can be spread by less than a pinhead of soil, it's humans that are the number one way in which the disease is spread.

"The good news is that kauri dieback is within everyone's ability to control, that people are talking about dieback in their networks and that people are serious about preventing the spread of the disease," Jay Harkness says. "Because kauri are a cornerstone species, whole forests are dependent on our communities getting involved in the issue – which they are doing on a large scale."

A kauri tree shows no signs of infection until its canopy starts to die, and often when bleeding lesions appear on its trunk. Research indicates that most if not all infected trees eventually die of the disease. There is no cure for kauri dieback.

Meanwhile, the fungus-like pathogen that causes kauri dieback has been renamed.

It is now officially known as Phytophthora agathidicida. The pathogen used to be known as Phytophthora taxon Agathis, or PTA, a taxonomic name that was temporarily assigned to the pathogen when it was first identified in 2008.

The Kauri Dieback Programme is a collaborative effort to protect kauri ecosystems from kauri dieback. The programme is co-ordinated by the Ministry for Primary Industries and comprises of the Department of Conservation, Auckland Council, Northland Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and tangata whenua.

The programme's priorities are disease research, providing operational support, carrying out surveillance, and helping enable tangata whenua, communities and stakeholders to prevent the spread of kauri dieback.

Find out more

Media outlets can request high-resolution images of diseased and healthy kauri – email media@mpi.govt.nz

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