New kauri dieback report highlights MPI incompetence

The spread of kauri dieback disease is a national crisis caused by the Ministry for Primary Industry's (MPI's) shambolic failure to manage the biosecurity threat, says Forest & Bird.
 
A report released today by the Auckland Council on kauri dieback in the Waitakere Ranges shows the number of trees locally infected by the disease has more than doubled in five years.
 
Forest & Bird’s Regional Manager Auckland and Northland, Nick Beveridge says they are pleased to see Auckland Council addressing the issue seriously but does not believe kauri health in the Waitakeres should be solely the council’s responsibility.
 
“The management of kauri dieback should not be left up to regional councils and community groups. This is a national issue requiring a multi-agency government response.
 
“MPI management of the Kauri Dieback Programme has been shambolic, and responsibility for the spread of the disease lies with them.  They have shown sustained incompetence at all levels, wasted time and public money and let the disease that is killing kauri spread on their watch.
 
“New Zealand’s kauri forests are at risk from Tauranga to Northland, and MPI need to put in place an urgent, well managed, and fully funded plan to restrict movement of the disease, and find a cure for it. 
 
“MPI received $26.5 million from the government to run the Kauri Dieback Programme. We know that some of this was spent on upgrading tourism infrastructure like boardwalks through infected forests, rather than on funding urgent biosecurity measures. There is a lack of transparency about where the rest of the money has gone and we’ll be asking these questions of MPI.
 
“The budget for managing kauri dieback disease needs to be significantly and immediately increased to include ground surveillance work, urgent research into a permanent cure for the disease, public education, and phytosanitary measures that actually work,” says Mr Beveridge.
 
“Community groups and iwi are now talking about closing public access to Waitakere ranges, which is bad enough, but without a multi-agency,  fully funded and urgent plan for stopping this disease  we risk losing these iconic forest giants altogether.”