Dutch elm disease in New Zealand: impacts from eradication and management programmes

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Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, the cause of the current pandemic of Dutch elm disease, is considered one of the 20 worst pests to have been introduced to New Zealand. An attempt to eradicate the pathogen came close to success, but was eventually stopped and replaced by management programmes. These programmes are slowing the spread of the pathogen. If left uncontrolled it is likely that New Zealand will lose 90% of its elm trees. Although elms are exotic trees in New Zealand, the loss of such a large number of popular amenity trees is likely to have numerous social, cultural, environmental and economic effects. It is estimated that this disease could cost public and councils over NZD $350 million in tree removal and replacement costs. Control of O. novo-ulmi is limited, but biological control using d-factor viruses has been proposed. Although O. novo-ulmi was not eradicated from New Zealand, the eradication programme had many successes; in particular, the effective interaction of good management and science in the early years of the campaign. Also highlighted in this review are several tactics and steps that could be applied to eradication attempts for other species.

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