Riders of the Hūnua Traverse Heartland Ride are being asked to prioritise biosecurity compliance, or risk having their access restricted.
Strict kauri dieback disease prevention rules in the Hūnua Ranges Regional Park require all cyclists to follow three simple rules; clean before you come, sterilise your bike and gear at the hygiene stations, and stay on track.
Kauri dieback disease, or Phytophthora agathidicida, is a fungus-like pathogen that infects and kills kauri and which has wreaked havoc on populations in Northland, the Waitākeres, the Coromandel and on Great Barrier Island.
“The Hūnua Ranges are home to the largest kauri forest in New Zealand that remains free of the insidious kauri dieback disease,” says Trent Taylor, Principal Ranger for Southern Regional Parks.
“Unfortunately low compliance with our biosecurity requirements is putting this population at risk.”
Over the past three months, just 70% of cyclists have complied with hygiene station requirements, making them the worst performing user group.
“If we don’t see the compliance rate lift to above 90%, some tough decisions are going to have to be made about whether cyclists should continue to access the park,” says Trent.
To support an uplift in compliance, a new Kaitiaki Champions Program will launch at the end of December. This program will see biosecurity ambassadors stationed at hygiene stations throughout the summer period, sharing information about the importance of biosecurity measures and ensuring visitors comply. Cameras located at each hygiene station will monitor the impact of this information campaign.
“Cyclists need to respect that access is a privilege, not a right,” says Angela Fulljames, Chair of the Franklin Local Board. “Unfortunately a small number of riders who aren’t complying risk ruining it for everyone.”
“Auckland Council has invested significantly into kauri protection initiatives, including diverting trails away from kauri, building raised boardwalks, fencing off at-risk trees and constructing kauri dieback hygiene stations at every entry point to the park. But these initiatives are only effective if people comply with requirements of cleaning and sterilising their bikes and gear and staying on track.”
The Hūnua Ranges Regional Park operates under a Controlled Area Notice (CAN), imposed by the Ministry for Primary Industries, which empowers dedicated Compliance Officers to fine and trespass any users who don’t comply with the rules set out in the CAN.
“Non-compliance has serious consequences including fines of up to $20,000 and a Trespass Notice, which would exclude recipients from the Regional Park for up to two years,” explains Trent.
Trent acknowledges that the hygiene stations can be tricky to use with long or heavy bikes, but affirms that with five different entry points for cyclists and no access to running water at these points, the hygiene stations are fit for purpose.”
“It’s the best we’ve got for now. Use it, or lose it,” he implores, clarifying that if cyclists don’t use the hygiene stations they risk losing access to the Regional Park.
Trent affirms the need to sterilise at each hygiene station.
“Riders travelling through the Upper Mangatāwhiri Valley and past the Bike Skills Area are travelling through one of the highest risk areas in the park for picking up Kauri Dieback Disease. With hundreds of vehicles and visitors travelling into this area from across Auckland every week, we need to ensure that every single person who walks or rides through this area then goes on to sterilise their shoes and bike.”
Remember the three simple rules; clean your bike before you come, sterilise at the hygiene stations and stay on track.