A survey of kauri in the Waitākere Ranges will reveal the prevalence of dieback disease for the first time

A recent survey by Auckland Council of 2100 kauri trees in the Waitākere Ranges will soon paint a picture for the first time of the extent of kauri dieback disease.

The chains of Waitākere have been under a rāhui for over four years to help fight the disease.

Lisa Tolich, leader of the Kauri dieback biosecurity team, says that if the trees and soil in the mountain ranges aren’t studied, they won’t know how the disease is progressing.

“We have studied over 2100 trees, 768 soil samples have been collected, this is going to give us this very important snapshot. So we need this information because if we don’t we don’t know how this disease evolves. with time.”

Kauri Dieback Senior Ranger Stu Leighton says the rāhui keeps people out, allowing the forest to heal.

“It definitely gives the forest a rest and giving time to allow good solutions to be put in place has been really beneficial.”

Leighton says building elevated walkways like the one being built will allow people to enter while protecting the roots of the kauri.

“We think it’s really important to allow a lot of people to come here without damaging what they come to see.”

Plant and food research plant pathologist Nari Williams says dieback can be compared to COVID-19.

“COVID is actually a really good analogy for kauri dieback management and research, in that it’s not just about finding a cure.”

Hygiene, reducing the spread, detector dogs and treatments like phosphite help the cause, but finding a vaccine is not an option.

“It’s a bit more difficult for trees. The warp speed just happens on a bit different timescale in terms of forests and kauri dieback,” Nari adds.

Like COVID-19, Leighton says it’s up to all Kiwis to do their part to help stop the spread.

“You want to be able to look back and say we did everything we could to prevent this from happening again.”

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