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.
‘‘This...is 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.