The Department of Conservation (DOC) has closed a reserve and upgraded local walking tracks in a bid to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback.
The Benton Leslie Reserve in Settlement Road, Kaiwaka has been closed to all public access for five years to protect the 2-ha stand from the disease, which currently has no cure. The reserve, which includes the 1000-year-old Benton Leslie kauri and many others aged up to 500 years, is privately owned with a conservation covenant and an easement so the public and DOC can access it.
Northland DOCs kauri dieback community engagement officer, Lynnie Gibson, says landowner Paul Warren has been very supportive of people visiting the kauri, but has become increasingly concerned by the threat of kauri dieback.
“The recent report on kauri dieback in the Waitakere Forest has exacerbated Mr Warren’s concerns, as his kauri are currently unprotected and people can walk right up to and around the trees,” she says.
The closure took effect last month and will be reviewed in December, 2022.
“The hope is that in five years we will have a cure or it will allow time to put protection methods in place, such as the installation of a cleaning station, and protecting kauri roots by building boardwalks or fencing.”
Meanwhile, DOC has upgraded two tracks through a kauri forest in the Dome, near Warkworth, as part of an ongoing work programme to help prevent kauri dieback from spreading.
The Dome Forest track upgrades were carried out in a bid to eliminate wet and muddy sections by improving the track surface and drainage. Boardwalk and steps have been installed and “geoweb” tree root protection has been laid. This DOC system involves laying plastic webbing filled with lightly-compacted bark chunks and gravel, which protects kauri surface feeder roots, as well as keeping the track dry and mud-free.
Kauri dieback can kill kauri of all ages. It is caused by microscopic spores in soil that infect kauri roots, damaging tissues that carry nutrients within the tree. Eventually, infected trees starve to death.
Kauri dieback can be spread if someone walks through mud containing spores and carries the contaminated mud on their footwear to another kauri forest.
It only takes a pinhead of infected soil to spread the disease. There is currently no cure for kauri dieback.
What you can do to stop the spread of kauri dieback
• Clean all mud and plant matter from footwear and equipment before you travel to a kauri forest
• Use cleaning stations at the start of a track to ensure your footwear is mud-free before entering a kauri forest
• Stay on the track, and off kauri roots, when walking through a kauri forest
• Use the cleaning stations at the end of the track to ensure your footwear is mud free before leaving a kauri forest