The roll-out of 20 innovative cleaning stations has started as part of the Department of Conservation’s efforts to reduce the spread of kauri dieback, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.
Stations will be installed on busy and high-risk DOC managed tracks in the kauri region, including the Kauri Loop track in the Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, near Huntly – the first track to have one of the new cleaning stations installed.
Other tracks are in the Kauri Coast and Bay of Islands Districts, Whangarei, Auckland, Whitianga, Hauraki, Tauranga, and Waikato, including two tracks managed by Auckland Council and Whangarei Regional Council.
"Human traffic is the main way kauri dieback is spread, so cleaning footwear and gear and staying on the track is the best way to contain the disease and save these forest giants,” Ms Sage said.
“Research shows people are far more likely to use cleaning stations if they see others do it, and if they can see the stations are good quality and well signposted.”
DOC has trialled various cleaning methods and stations over recent years. Two years ago it piloted world-first prototype cleaning stations at four sites in Northland and the Coromandel. Extensive testing, monitoring and evaluation of the stations resulted in further improvements.
This led to the installation of a large walk-through, partly-automated cleaning station at Tāne Mahuta in Waipoua Forest last year. It is helping to ensure that every one of the almost 150,000 people who visit the site every year arrive at the tree – and depart again – with clean footwear.
“Stations are designed to be easy to install and maintain and hard to ignore.”
The cleaning stations feature a brush fixed to the base, so people can clean their shoes while holding onto a rail, rather than balancing on one foot holding a scrubbing brush. They also feature a pedal pump to spray disinfectant on to the bottom of footwear.
Information from ongoing monitoring and feedback will inform any further refinements, ahead of future roll-outs later this year.
Photo caption: A station at Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, near Huntly, was installed yesterday. It was the first of 20 being rolled out to reduce the spread of kauri dieback.