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Published: 2013-06-04 00:00:00

An education campaign to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease to forest on the Coromandel Peninsula has been given a $12,000 funding boost by Waikato Regional Council.

The Kauri Trust 2000 will use the environmental initiatives fund (EIF) grant to construct billboards at the Kopu Bridge and elsewhere on the peninsula to make visitors aware of the need to clean their footwear and equipment before entering Coromandel Peninsula forests. 

Since being set up, the trust has planted more than 36,000 kauri on the Coromandel Peninsula and worked to educate the public on the history and ecology of the forest. 

A major focus for the trust in the past year has been kauri dieback. Formally known as Phytophtora taxon Agathis or PTA, kauri dieback is a soil-borne, fungus like disease that infects kauri roots and damages tissues that carry nutrients to the tree. 

The Kauri Dieback Joint Agency Programme, Department of Conservation (DOC) and Waikato Regional Council have been supporting the trust’s work. 

The council worked with the trust over the past month to deliver three workshops on the Coromandel Peninsula to educate people on the disease and methods for preventing its spread. 

Kauri dieback was formally identified in New Zealand in 2008 and a multi-agency response formed between the Ministry for Primary Industries, DOC, Auckland Council, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional councils, and local iwi. 

The disease has killed kauri in Northland, Auckland and Great Barrier Island but has so far been undetected within the Waikato Regional Council’s boundary. 

The Thames-Coromandel area is home to the biggest stands of kauri in the wider Waikato, and there are also kauri in places like the Hakarimata Range south of Huntly. Checks for signs of the disease are ongoing at a range of sites in the Waikato. 

The fungal disease can be spread through the movement of soil on items like boots and tramping equipment and sports gear. The key way people can help prevent the spread of the disease is to stay on formed tracks in areas where there are kauri, to not stand on kauri roots and to keep footwear clean. 

Signage to this effect and footwear cleaning stations have been put in place in parts of the Coromandel, the Hakiramata Ranges near Ngaruawahia, Te Kauri Reserve near Kawhia and a private reserve. 

Other general tips from the national kauri dieback prevention programme include:

  • Make sure all footwear, tools, equipment and mountain bikes are totally soil free when entering a forest area containing kauri. Clean at the beginning and end of each day is recommended.
  • Wheeled or tracked machinery, vehicles and ATVs pose a particularly high risk and should be cleaned thoroughly to remove soil.
  • Where possible, machinery and vehicles should remain on site for the duration of a job or project.
  • All machinery should be clean before leaving the depot for a new work site.
  • When in the field, all equipment should be cleaned before moving from one area of kauri into another. 

More information on kauri dieback is available at www.kauridieback.co.nz.