1,000 signatures reached
To: Auckland Council
Close the Ranges to Save the Waitakere Kauri
The Tree Council, Forest & Bird and the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society support Te Kawerau a Maki and call on Auckland Council to use the precautionary principle and temporarily close tracks in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park to the general public until they can implement an urgent programme of essential actions required to protect kauri and save them from extinction within the park. This closure will not affect managed conservation operations such as Ark in the Park.
Why is this important?
The Tree Council, Waitakere Ranges Protection Society and Forest & Bird stand with Te Kawerau a Maki in calling for a rāhui and closure of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park in response to the monitoring figures from Auckland Council’s latest survey of kauri dieback infection.
The results from the Waitakere Ranges have confirmed their worst fears about the spread of kauri dieback. While the average number of trees infected across the entire Waitakere Ranges may be 19% (more than doubled from 8% 5 years ago) the infection in areas where kauri dominates is actually affecting between 33% and 58% of trees.
The Council's recent monitoring report states that local extinction of kauri in areas like Piha, where the infection is worst, is highly likely within 5 years unless urgent and drastic action is taken now. Extinction of kauri across the entire Waitakere Ranges is possible within a generation.
It is clear the infection is being spread mainly by people, rather than wild animals, as the majority of the infection (more than 70%) is along the track network and worst in the areas with heaviest foot traffic. Compliance by people with phytosanitary measures to scrub and spray shoes, dog feet, tyres and equipment is below 20% and falling.
Auckland Council’s own report states that by continuing to allow recreational use to knowingly spread this Unwanted Organism to uninfected areas the Council is breaching the Biosecurity Act.
The priorities for action are:
1) Close tracks in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park until the following actions are implemented. This includes closing the Hillary Trail, which is the major source of infection. Tracks with infected kauri can be reopened once protective measures 4 and 5 are fully implemented on those tracks;
2) Close all tracks to healthy kauri immediately and permanently, or until new knowledge tells us it is safe to reopen them;
3) Apply enforcement measures to people using closed tracks and publicise these to make an example of those putting healthy kauri at risk;
4) Accelerate the programme of building boardwalks and “dry” tracks to get people’s feet off kauri roots on tracks;
5) Implement improved cleaning station design to make avoidance difficult and staff cleaning stations to educate track users about the importance of hygiene measures;
6) Stop events like the Hillary Trail Marathon taking place on tracks with kauri and move to locations without these precious trees;
7) Implement a programme of phosphite treatment on public land to keep individual trees alive.
How it will be delivered