Iconic Auckland trees to be felled after fatal disease found

The well-known tree outside Auckland Art Gallery will be removed this weekend.
The well-known tree outside Auckland Art Gallery will be removed this weekend. Photo credit: Auckland Council

Several iconic Auckland trees will have to be removed after they were found to be infected with Dutch elm disease.

The fungal disease, which spreads quickly and is almost always fatal to trees, was found on the well-known elm on Wellesley Street outside Auckland Art Gallery.

A group of elms within the historic Symonds Street cemetery are also infected.

Under the Biosecurity Act 1993, any trees infected with Dutch elm disease must be felled to prevent the fungus from spreading and to stop dying trees from becoming a public hazard. 

The fungal disease was first identified in Myers Park in the summer of 1989/1990. It is currently found only in Auckland, but has recently become more common in central Auckland.

Auckland Council arboriculture and eco specialist Simon Cook says Dutch elm disease is arbitrary in nature and thus hard to eradicate.

"There has been a lot of hard work go into managing the disease over the last few years, so it's devastating that it has appeared on trees in two special central city locations," he says.

The infected elms in Symonds Street Cemetery.
The infected elms in Symonds Street Cemetery. Photo credit: Auckland Council

"While we are incredibly disappointed to have to remove these beautiful trees, we unfortunately have no other choice."

The elm outside the Art Gallery will be removed on Sunday, February 25. Auckland Council is currently working out a plan to remove the infected trees located in the Presbyterian section of the Symonds Street cemetery. 

Replacement trees will be planted as determined by Auckland Council. 

Newshub.