Pine forests could incubate kauri dieback, scientists warn

The Government should be cautious about planting pine trees near northern kauri forests because they may be incubating kauri dieback, some scientists say.

Dr Amanda Black, of Lincoln's Bio-Protection Research Centre, said she supervised a masters' thesis that showed the pathogen that killed kauri reproduced more rapidly in pine forest and agricultural pasture than it did in a kauri forest.

In pine forest soil it produced more long-living spores.

Urgent action is being called for over kauri dieback disease in Northland’s Waipoua Forest. Source: 1 NEWS

Dr Black said care was needed when the Government promoted increasing commercial forestry as part of its one-billion trees programme.

"We urgently need further research to clarify the role pine forests, pasture, and other plants play in incubating and spreading the organism that causes kauri dieback," said Dr Black said.

"Until we are sure of what role they play, we should be very careful about planting any further pine plantations anywhere near kauri forest."

Lincoln University masters student Kai Lewis' thesis led to Dr Black's caution. Mr Lewis studied how well the pathogen phytophthora agathidicida reproduced in three types of soil: Kauri forest, pine forest and pasture.

He collected samples near Waipoua Forest in Northland and one of the original mainland sites from which kauri dieback had spread, Dr Black said.

"Mr Lewis's research showed that P. agathidicida could infect Pinus radiata and several common pasture plants, even those that show no symptoms. This suggests other plants and soil may act as a reservoir for P. agathidicida," Dr Black said.

Other research reported earlier this year showed the kauri dieback organism also infected other native plants, including tanekaha, suggesting more potential hosts need to be examined.

"This raises the possibility that kauri dieback may be moving from pine plantations and pasture into kauri forests, carried by people, animals, and even on machinery," Dr Black said .

"We urgently need further research to find out if this is happening and how. Until we know the answer, we need to be very careful."

In his thesis Mr Lewis said investigating the role of unfenced pasture next to kauri forests was a high priority for further research.

However, Dr Nari Williams from the crown forestry research institute Scion, who was a supervisor of the study said it did not justify stopping pine planting.

"It's important to know that the study did not try to find if the pathogen was (already) present in the soil samples.

"In the study phytophera agathadicida was artificially introduced to soil taken from pine forests, pasture and kauri forests," she said.

Many soil types and plants had the potential to harbour the pathogen, and it would be unreasonable to single out specific plants or locations as a higher risk (to kauri) than others, Dr Williams said.

Other plant scientists said the study raised biosecurity issues and pines should not be planted near kauri forest in the meantime.

Associate Professor Bruce Burns, from Auckland University's School of Biological Sciences, said the study was highly significant because it extended the potential host range for the kauri dieback and land uses that could be susceptible to it.

The research had also identified two species of phytopthera that hadn't been found in New Zealand before, and were known to cause disease on plants overseas, he said.

"At this stage the research doesn't justify a stop to the government's new pine plantations... but it does indicate that pine plantations planned near kauri forests should be avoided or delayed until the full extent of this risk is known," Dr Burns said.

Dr Nick Waipara, a senior scientist at Plant and Food Reserach, said the study showed the kauri killer organism could function outside a kauri stand, which had significant biosecurity implications.

"It is emerging that kauri is not the only plant host of agathadicida - it can survive using other plants.

"These findings... yet again show the lack of fundamental knowledge of agathadicida's impact and ecology in New Zealand... we need this type of research to continue," Dr Waipara said.

Professor Euan Mason from Canterbury University's School of Forestry said pine plantations were likely to be planted on sites outside the range of kauri so putting a stop to all pine planting was high unlikely to be justified.

The question was whether adding more pine plantations on grassland north of Hamilton would significantly add to the risk of kauri dieback.

"If the alternatives were pine or pasture then an increase in risk by planting pines would seem unlikely, based on these results," he said.

Rows of recent planted of young pine trees.
Recently planted pine trees (file picture). Source: istock.com



Rentable e-scooters could 'revolutionise' way Aucklanders get around with 2500 set to hit city's streets

A fleet of e-scooters is about to hit Auckland streets which the public can rent to get around town.

A media release today says an initial order of 500 Onzo e-scooters are en route to Auckland and set to hit the streets next month.

The company says a further 2000 will join them in coming months.

With a 250W motor, the e-scooters are capable of top speeds of around 30 kilometres per hour and can cover around 30 kilometres before requiring a recharge.

"E-scooters are great because they make travelling easy and fun," Onzo Chief Growth Officer, Min-Kyu Jung, says.

"Unlike bikes, e-scooters are allowed to be used on footpaths and don’t require helmets. They're perfect to pick up anywhere, anytime, for last-mile journeys such as between the bus stop and the office.

"I think this is totally going to revolutionise the way Aucklanders travel around this city. We're designing the system to make it super quick, easy, and cheap to pick up e-scooters for short journeys multiple times a day."

The scooters are said to feature regenerative braking to recharge the battery when the brakes are applied, or when a rider is going downhill.

They also have front and rear lights for added safety.

Just like Onzo's bikes, the system will be dockless and users will simply use the Onzo app to unlock the scooters from wherever they're left around the city by the previous rider.

Onzo will crowdsource the recharging of the scooters at night to the public.

Onzo e-scooter. Source: Supplied


Greenpeace links forest destruction for palm oil to global brands

Greenpeace says global consumer brands continue to buy palm oil from companies that are cutting down Indonesia's rainforests despite repeated pledges to clean up their supply chains.

The environmental group says in a report released Wednesday that 25 palm oil producing groups it has investigated destroyed more than 130,000 hectares of natural forest in Indonesia since 2015.

It says all but one of those producers had supplied palm oil to consumer companies that are household names around the world in the past year.

Palm oil, mainly produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, is used in a slew of consumer products from snacks to cosmetics.

Rapid forest loss and greenhouse gas emissions have made Indonesia the fourth biggest contributor to global warming after China, the U.S. and India.

Forest in Indonesia (file picture).
Forest in Indonesia (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS

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Winston Peters explains party's support for raising refugee quota

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says NZ First shared the Labour Party's "aspiration" to increase the refugee quota, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced it will be raised to 1500 today.

The NZ First Party leader's position was in stark contrast to comments made at the start of the month at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

"We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota," Mr Peters told media at the time.

The Deputy PM went on to argue there were other priorities for the Government.

"We've got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, with people living in degradation.

"We have to fix their lives up as well before we start taking on new obligations of the level that some people would like."

However, while standing next to Ms Ardern during the announcement today he took a much softer line on the refugee issue.

"This is about people not about politics and controversy, the fact is it was put to me in Nauru that the 1500 figure was already there, which it wasn't.

"The Labour Party policy I knew was an aspiration towards that, so was New Zealand First's an aspiration towards that, and I knew the Greens had a higher target," Mr Peters said.

"All I did was put out the plain facts and to say that it was a work in progress and I'm not surprised with the speed at which the progress has taken place.

"This was always on the cards that we'd get it done when we had all the background work done on refugee centres and a host of other things," he continued.

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand's refugee quota was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years.

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre  

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS


New Zealand's refugee quota jumps to 1500 per year from July 2020, Government announces

New Zealand’s refugee quota will be raised to 1500, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. 

It was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

"It is the right thing to do," said Ms Ardern. 

"It puts New Zealand much more in line with the humanitarian policies of other developed countries."

Deputy PM Winston Peters said the increase was "about people, not about politics and controversy". 

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years. 

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre 

ONN 1 News at 6 promo image
For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Background

Yesterday, Ms Ardern told media she wanted to see the current quota increased but a sticking point has been the vastly different policy positions of Labour's Government partners. 

Labour pledged to raise the quota to 1500 and the Green Party aimed for a quota of 5000.

Earlier this month NZ First's Winston Peters told media in Nauru that the focus needed to be on New Zealanders struggling at home.

"We have 50,000 people who are homeless back home and I can show you parts of Northland where people are living in degradation," Mr Peters said, while being questioned at the Pacific Islands' Forum.

National's Simon Bridges said yesterday if the refugee quota was lower than 1500 it would be a demonstration of "Winston Peters undermining the Prime Minister".

"If you look at the Prime Minister's rhetoric she's made great play about being a globalist, a progressive with soaring rhetoric on these issues.

"It's all very well to do the photo ops, the international pieces, but when you've got important questions like this back home that... [are] now are up in the air because of a lack of unanimity and cohesion."

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS