Skeletoniser decision unfortunate

11 Jun 2003

The decision by MAF to abandon any attempts to eradicate the gum leaf skeletoniser has been described by the Forest Owners Association as unfortunate.

"It is unfortunate for both local communities and the forest industry," said chief executive Rob McLagan in response to the MAF media statement released today.

Gum leaf skeletoniser is an insect pest which has the potential to seriously affect eucalyptus trees in particular and possibly other tree species.

Several eucalypts are important commercial forestry species, especially where features such as durability and high quality cabinet timbers are required. The red flowering species are a feature of many parks and gardens.

"For the forest industry, eucalypts have offered an opportunity to diversify away from our very heavy reliance on one commercial species - pinus radiata. In the central North Island, blue gums have been widely planted as a source of pulp wood used in the manufacture of higher quality papers," said Mr McLagan.

"Given that this pest now seems to be quite widely established MAF's pragmatic approach is probably appropriate. However there are many things that can be done to minimise its impact in the future and we will be looking to MAF to urgently develop these with both the forest industry and the wider community.

"The MAF decision again underlines the constant threats faced by the country's primary industries on which the country relies so heavily for its economic well-being.

"It should also serve as another reminder to our bio-security agencies, and indeed all New Zealanders of the need for total vigilance to keep unwanted exotic pests and diseases out of the country."