THE SCIENCE STORY OF KAURI DIEBACK
1. UNDERSTANDING THE DISEASE
We’re increasing our understanding of the pathogen that causes Kauri dieback disease. The priority has been to understand more about the pathogen, its biology and its impacts.
2. Mātauranga Māori
The use of Mātauranga Māori or traditional Māori knowledge is increasingly becoming important in the fight against pest & diseases.
Mātauranga Māori is holistic, dynamic and a continually evolving knowledge system. It is defined as the knowledge, comprehension or understanding of everything tangible or intangible (such as spiritual and metaphysical values) that exists across the universe from a Maori perspective.
3. SURVEILLANCE, DETECTION, DIAGNOSTICS & PATHWAYS
To help stop the spread of kauri dieback disease we need to first know how it spreads, then locate where it maybe and find ways to confirm its presence. We’ve worked out the best way to find the disease and detect it in the soil using modern laboratory techniques. In addition, we have a better understanding on the type of pathways or vectors (carriers) of kauri dieback disease, allowing us to better target certain activities. We are also currently exploring other ways to improve how we find the disease and detect the pathogen.
4. CONTROLLING THE DISEASE
Unfortunately there is no cure for kauri dieback disease. In addition, it is very difficult to find useful pragmatic tools that can be applied in a natural forest that not only will help control the disease but is also non-toxic to kauri and has minimal environmental and human health impacts.
We are investing in research to help find ways to fight the pathogen directly as well as to assist the tree in fighting the disease themselves or prevent the trees from becoming infected in the first place. The use of phosphite, biological control, alternative natural products, traditional Māori medicines and genetic resistance are some of the research that is occurring.
Photo: Plant & Food Research
Good decision-making leads to better more effective management of kauri dieback disease. However we need the tools and tactics that will allow us to do this. As a team we need guidelines to enable forest users to best manage activities in the forest and tools to prioritise where and how we spend resources to save kauri. By identifying the areas of concern and ensuring that kauri sites are protected, we hope to keep ahead of the disease and protect these areas for future generations.
6. SOCIAL SCIENCE
The disease is primarily spread in soil, humans are regarded as the biggest carrier through contaminated soil on footwear and other gear. As a result we’ve increased our focus on behavioural change research to get people to; Scrub their footwear, spray on disinfectant and stay on track.
Having the support from the community is very important as everyone needs to be involved in the fight against this disease. Social research in understanding user group's perceptions and needs will enable more effective, targeted communication.