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Conservationists call for Waitakere Ranges closure

The rate of infected kauri in the Waitakere Ranges has more than doubled in the past five years, from eight per cent, to 19 per cent. Photo: George Driver

A coalition of conservation groups is calling on people to stay out of the Waitakere Ranges to prevent the rampant spread of kauri dieback disease.

The disease is spread via the movement soil and people are the main vector – 70 per cent of infected trees are within 50m of tracks. So far management of dieback has failed in the ranges, with disease rates doubling in the past five years, as people continued to ignore prevention measures, such as cleaning footwear.

Forest & Bird, the Tree Council, Waitakere Ranges Protection Society, and the Friends of Regional Parks are asking the public to support the temporary closure until more is done to protect kauri.

Local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki has also called for a rahui on the park from Saturday December 2 to restrict access. The rahui would not restrict access to beaches, public land adjacent to beaches, private land or public roads.

Auckland Council’s Environment and Community Committee will make a decision on a range of proposals to combat the spread of dieback, including closing the park, on December 5.

The council has already closed 27km of tracks in the region to prevent dieback spreading.