Eave’s Bush in Orewa is to be closed to the public to prevent the spread of kauri dieback.
Walking tracks through the 16ha bush reserve are popular with the public.
Signs will go up at the entrances to the reserve this week, and Auckland Council will close Eave’s Bush from mid-June.
The closure is temporary but at this stage Council is not able to say when the reserve will reopen.
Council’s biosecurity manager for kauri dieback, Lisa Tolich, says the disease has not been found in Eave’s Bush, and the closure is a precautionary measure based on the number of high value kauri located there.
She estimates there are more than 400 kauri within 10 metres of the track network and close to 1000 across the whole reserve.
“The large number of kauri located next to tracks increases the risk of the trees being exposed to the disease,” Ms Tolich says.
The closure allows the trees to be protected in winter, when the tracks get muddy – the disease is spread through the movement of infected soil, especially on shoes. It will also allow measures to be put in place to reduce the likelihood of the disease getting into the reserve.
“It is a risk based approach,” Ms Tolich says. “Hygiene procedures such as cleaning footwear are very important, as is staying on the track. But tracks need to be brought up to standard to be safe for kauri, so that soil cannot be transferred onto shoes.”
A number of volunteers regularly work in Eave’s Bush, weeding, controlling pests and maintaining tracks. They have also been responsible for building boardwalks to protect the roots of kauri.
Eave’s Bush Appreciation Group coordinator Laurie Rands says she is relieved and thankful about the closure because protecting the trees is paramount.
She says while many members of the public clean their shoes at the footwear cleaning stations before they enter the bush, it is not uncommon to find people who actively refuse to do so.
“Our biggest concern is the need to continue pest control, as it is starting to have a noticeable effect on possums, rats and stoats,” Mrs Rands says.
Ms Tolich says Council will work closely with volunteers so that they can continue to undertake pest and weed management while the bush is closed.
She says that in the coming months, Council will talk with the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board about the mitigation measures that could be put in place in Eave’s Bush. This could initially include closing the gaps between existing boardwalks. The work will be funded by the Natural Environment targeted rate (HM April 3).
The closure will be enforced if there are found to be any serious non-compliance issues.
“We thank the volunteers and the public for their patience and understanding, as this is not an easy process,” Ms Tolich says.