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Published: 2016-05-16 00:00:00

The fight against the spread of kauri dieback is taking to the air later this month as Waikato Regional Council checks west coast and north Waikato areas for signs of the disease which has been killing our forest giants.

Kauri dieback has already been found on the Coromandel at Hukarahi and in parts of the Whangapoua Forest, and there is concern it might also be in other parts of the Waikato.

“This is about us being proactive and looking to see where else in our region the disease might be,” said biosecurity officer Kim Parker.

The aerial survey, using a fixed wing aircraft, will be carried out over three days between 21 May and 6 June, with exact dates dependent on suitable weather. Residents may notice the plane flying in a grid and from time to time it could circle.

The survey for the council is being carried out as part of the National Kauri Dieback Programme, which is funding the flights. An expert observer will be looking for yellowing kauri leaves, canopy thinning and dead branches.

Other kauri dieback symptoms include bleeding around the roots and lower trunks.

“Once a tree is identified with the potential symptoms we then carry out soil sampling to confirm whether the tree is infected with the disease or not,” said Ms Parker.

Kauri dieback itself is caused by a microscopic fungus-like organism called Phytophthora agathidicida. This disease infects kauri roots and damages the tissues that carry nutrients and water within the tree, basically starving the tree to death. It kills kauri of all sizes, from the smallest of seedlings to the mightiest of giants. Once a tree has the disease there is no cure, so preventing its spread is the best way to go.

People with questions about this survey, or kauri dieback, can call Ms Parker on 0800 800 401. More information on kauri dieback is available at www.kauridieback.co.nz.