Kauri icons threatened by inaction

By Kathryn Powley

Dieback-affected Kauri at Albany. Photo / Doug Sherring
Dieback-affected Kauri at Albany. Photo / Doug Sherring

A veteran conservationist and resident of Waipoua Forest says a lack of government funding is jeopardising iconic kauri forests.

Waipoua Forest Trust conservator Stephen King was "very frustrated" with the slow progress and lack of funds to stop kauri dieback disease.

As reported in the Herald on Sunday last week, a fungus-like kauri-killing disease called phytophthora taxon agathis has been detected on tracks in the 12,000ha rainforest, prompting Te Roroa iwi to consider a ban.

Dieback spreads along tracks in dirt on people's shoes, in rain run-off and by pigs. It kills kauri by entering the root system and ringbarking the tree.

"One of the big faults of the response is it has been Wellington driven. It's very frustrating."

King wanted a laboratory set up at Waipoua to speed up testing. So far only a third of sites had been tested, due to a lack of funding. King said tracks in Waipoua needed improving or closing.

Wild pigs should also be culled.

The forest trust was making a huge effort to water the giant kauri tree Tane Mahuta to keep it healthy during the drought.

Despite dieback being waterborne, watering the tree did not increase the risk, he said.

Several councils in areas affected by dieback have asked to meet Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy to ask why funding into kauri dieback had not been extended beyond next year. Guy agreed to see them, but a date has yet to be set.

- Herald on Sunday

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