Kauri Dieback is a complex biological problem with a significant human dimension.
Kauri is an iconic forest species in northern New Zealand and is intricately entwined with both Maori and European history. Today kauri is a strong symbol of conservation.
Kauri is now threatened by a disease that is spreading and killing trees. As the pathogen is in the ground, anything that moves soil can spread the disease to healthy trees.
People walking forest tracks with muddy boots may spread the pathogen to new areas by walking in the root zone of healthy trees. Therefore increasing public awareness and education about preventative actions are an important part of the response to "Keep Kauri Standing".
As disease management is now the focus, it is critical the public are engaged with kauri dieback.
The Kauri Dieback Technical Advisory Group was established to co-ordinate the response of central and local government to kauri dieback and Marie provides advice to the social research programme. This programme seeks to monitor public awareness and understanding of kauri dieback and people's acceptance of management practices, some of which are controversial, such as the closure of walking tracks. The management of wild pigs, which are a possible disease vector, also affects interest groups such as hunters. Having people and communities engaged with kauri dieback will help increase the likelihood that disease management will be successful.
People are asked to scrub and disinfect footwear at carparks and track entrances to reduce the risk of spreading kauri dieback.
The Ministry for Primary Industries leads the Kauri Dieback response and sought our advice about signage for places where people enter kauri forests. Signage needs to engage people so they take time to read it. Signs must then convey a key message that people can quickly understand and must contain a clear "call to action" to maximise the chance that people will clean and disinfect their boots at a cleaning station.
Signage is passive communication and people respond differently. Effective signage not only raises public awareness of kauri dieback, it increases public understanding as people must play a major role in the fight against kauri dieback.