Survey of kauri trees in Waitākere Ranges will reveal for the first time the prevalence of dieback disease

A recent survey by the Auckland Council of 2100 kauri trees in the Waitākere Ranges will soon paint a picture for the first time of the extent of kauri dieback disease.

The Waitākere Ranges have been under a rāhui for more than four years to help tackle the disease.

Kauri dieback biosecurity team manager Lisa Tolich says if trees and soil in the Ranges aren't surveyed they won't know how the disease is changing. 

"We surveyed over 2100 trees, 768 soil sampled were gathered, it's going to give us that all-important snapshot. So we need that information because if we don't then we don't know how that disease is changing over time." 

Kauri dieback senior ranger Stu Leighton says the rāhui is keeping people out allowing the forest to heal. 

"It's definitely giving the forest a rest and giving time to allow good solutions to be put in  place has been really beneficial."

Leighton says building raised boardwalks like one currently being built will allow people back in while protecting the roots of the kauri. 

"We think this is really important to enable lots and lots of people to come here without damaging the very thing they're coming to see."

Plant and Food Research plant pathologist Nari Williams says dieback can be compared to COVID-19. 

"COVID is actually a very good analogy for kauri dieback management and research, in that it's not just about looking for one cure." 

Hygiene, reducing the spread, detector dogs and treatment like phosphite are helping the cause, but finding a vaccine isn't an option. 

"It's a bit more difficult for trees. Warp speed just happens on a bit of a different timescale in terms of forests and kauri dieback," Nari adds. 

Like COVID-19, Leighton says it is up to all Kiwis to do their bit to help stop the spread. 

"You want to be able to look back and say we did everything we could to prevent more of this happening."