The closure of ‘The Four Sisters’ walking track in Northland due to Kauri Dieback has brought into focus this Government’s painfully slow approach to dealing with the disease, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“In December 2017 Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage asked the Kauri Dieback Programme to develop a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP) to stop the spread of this concerning pathogen.

“Emphasising how ‘urgent and effective action’ was needed to save these iconic trees, both Ministers said this was ‘by far the strongest piece of regulation available’.

“But two and a half years later this Government has failed to meet its lofty rhetoric, with the final consultation round only recently closing in March. Meanwhile the Management Plan itself, which is now at Cabinet, isn’t pencilled for release until September 2019.

“This is hardly the ‘urgent and effective’ response this Government promised in December 2017. What we’ve been given instead is a piecemeal response that isn’t going to have any tangible effect for some time to come.

“Dozens of tracks on DOC land are closed, some permanently, while others remain partially closed with access restricted in certain areas. The timeframes for partially closed tracks differs from site to site and there are large tracts of at-risk forests that are still open to the public.

“We are past consultation and need clear action to stop the spread of this devastating pathogen—or else we risk losing our Northern Forests altogether.”

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