Con­cern over dis­ease ef­fects


The dis­cov­ery of myr­tle rust in New Zealand is ‘‘the last thing’’ the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion needs, di­rec­tor gen­eral Lou San­son says.

San­son has spent two days in Queen­stown meet­ing with equiv­a­lent con­ser­va­tion lead­ers from 17 coun­tries in­clud­ing South Africa, Canada, Is­rael, Colom­bia, Aus­tralia, Switzer­land and Great Bri­tain.

Among the items on their agenda was bio­di­ver­sity threats, and myr­tle rust was a hot topic as it had been con­firmed in New Zealand a day ear­lier.

‘‘ go­ing to cost us hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars which takes money away from con­ser­va­tion,’’ San­son said.

‘‘It’s an­other thing we just didn’t need. It could be tragic for rata, our po­hutakawa, our manuka.’’

Aus­tralia had been deal­ing with it for four years, he said.

‘‘They’ve lost a num­ber of plant species, but it hasn’t cre­ated the mas­sive loss of for­est we’ve seen in Hawaii. Let’s hope the species that’s come into New Zealand is not as vir­u­lent as the Hawai­ian one.’’

The World Pro­tected Ar­eas Lead­ers Fo­rum had been an in­spi­ra­tional fo­rum to share ideas around con­ser­va­tion lands, with a fo­cus on tourism this year, he said.

Wild­ing species and cli­mate change were also shared con­cerns.

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