Dutch Elm Disease

Ophiostoma ulmi

Dutch Elm Disease

Dutch Elm Disease

Legal Status: Notifiable Organism
Status in New Zealand: Established
Organism: Micro-organism

This disease is currently present in the Auckland area.

Report any sightings of Dutch Elm Disease to MAFBNZ on 0800 80 99 66 in the first instance. Calls will then be forwarded to the relevant territorial authority.

General Information

Dutch Elm Disease (Ophiostoma ulmi) is a fungal disease spread by bark beetles, but can also spread directly through root grafting between neighboring trees. The fungus clogs water-conducting tissues in infected trees. The tree responds by forming gum within its tissues, causing the tree to wilt and then die. The disease is nearly always fatal to elm trees over a short period.

It has no human health impacts nor does it affect native plants. Elms are not a significant commercial forestry species in New Zealand.

It is currently contained in the Auckland area where it was found in 1989. An earlier outbreak in Napier was eradicated.

Elm trees are easily distinguished by their large leaves with serrated edges, symmetrical veins, and an asymmetrical base.

A vegetation control zone is in place around Auckland to prevent the spread of Dutch Elm Disease. This means the movement of elm produce is restricted in the Auckland region.

Management

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) is no longer funding a national Dutch Elm Disease management programme.

This follows a decision that national management of the disease is not a priority when compared to other organisms that threaten the health and lifestyle of New Zealanders, our environment and our cultural and economic wellbeing.

The decision wasn't taken lightly. It followed evaluation of 20 of the worst pests in New Zealand to decide which can and should be eradicated from New Zealand or contained to localised areas. National programmes are being established or strengthened for 11 of the 20 pests.

Instead of immediately discontinuing the programme MAFBNZ has offered assistance to territorial authorities, which are collectively the single biggest group of elm owners in New Zealand. Elms have been a significant amenity species used in local council plantings.

MAFBNZ is now actively working to transfer the programme to interested territorial authorities over an 18-month period.

Report any sightings of Dutch Elm Disease to MAFBNZ on 0800 80 99 66 in the first instance. Calls will then be forwarded to the relevant territorial authority.

Vegetation control zone

A vegetation control zone is in place around Auckland to prevent the spread of Dutch Elm Disease. This means the movement of elm produce is restricted in the Auckland region.

The vegetation control zone is established under the authority of section 131(2) of the Biosecurity Act 1993 and there are severe penalties for violating it.

What is considered 'elm produce'?

'Elm produce' covers not only live elm trees but also cuttings, seeds, firewood, timber, and seedlings.

Where is the vegetation control zone?

The Dutch elm disease vegetation control zone covers Waitakere City, North Shore City, Auckland City, Manukau City, and Papakura District. The restrictions apply to movement of elm produce into, out of, or within this zone.

What can't I do in the vegetation control zone?

You will need MAFBNZ permission to plant, transport, or destroy elm produce in the vegetation control zone. If you want to plant, transport, or destroy elm produce, ring MAFBNZ on 0800 80 99 66 first.

What are the penalties for violating the vegetation control zone?

Violating the vegetation control zone is an offence under the Biosecurity Act 1993 (see sections 154 (offsite link to www.legislation.govt.nz) and 157 (offsite link to www.legislation.govt.nz)) and carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 for companies, or both.

Page last updated: 26 May 2008