Ten walking tracks in the Bay of Islands will be permanently closed this week to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease.
The Department of Conservation made the announcement today with acting Bay of Islands operations manager Martin Akroyd saying the ten ''high-risk'' tracks had to be closed to protect kauri and stop the disease from spreading.
Eight of the 10 tracks are in the Puketi and Omahuta Forests, about midway between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga. Together they form one of the biggest tracts of native bush in Northland.
Kauri dieback disease has been confirmed in Omahuta Forest and a number of suspected cases in Puketi Forest are awaiting the results of laboratory tests.
The other two tracks are in the Russell-Ngaiotonga Forest, on the east coast south of Russell.
Akroyd appealed to Northlanders to heed the track bans.
"We urge the public to respect the closures and no longer access these tracks, otherwise they'll be putting our kauri at great risk."
DOC consulted with Treaty partners before making the call, he said.
The closed tracks are:
Puketi Forest: Mangahorehore Track, Onekura Track, Pukekohe Stream Track, Upper Waipapa River Track, Walnut Track, Waihoanga Gorge Kauri Walk and Takapau Track.
Omahuta Forest: Omahuta Kauri Sanctuary Walk.
Russell-Ngaiotonga Forest: Kauri Grove Walk and Twin Bole Kauri Walk.
Kauri dieback is caused by a microscopic fungus-like organism called Phytophthora agathidicida (PA).
It lives in soil and infects kauri roots, damaging tissues that carry nutrients and water within the tree, effectively starving it to death. It can be spread by people, pigs, goats, cattle and horses.
Many tracks in Auckland's popular Waitakere Ranges, and a few in Northland's Waipoua Forest, have already been closed to prevent further spread of the disease.