Forests keep threat alive

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

A ‘‘premier’’ Cen­tral Otago land­scape is un­der threat from wild­ing conifers that have reached seed­ing age.

Cen­tral Otago Wild­ing Conifer Con­trol Group pro­ject man­ager Phil Mur­ray said a douglas fir plan­ta­tion near Lake Onslow had reached the seed­ing age of 12 years and trees were start­ing to spread.

‘‘Lake Onslow is one of our premier land­scapes. Trin­ity Foun­da­tion has a plan­ta­tion up there and the trees have only just reached seed­ing age and are start­ing to spread. Seed is go­ing to go all over that.’’

The group planned to lobby the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil to make forestry com­pa­nies take re­spon­si­bil­ity for con­trol­ling spread from their forests, he said.

‘‘Ev­ery in­dus­try needs to meet the cost of its in­dus­try and forestry needs to do the same. We are ask­ing dairy farm­ers to meet the cost of the in­dus­try and main­tain their nu­tri­ents within their place and not to al­low them to spill off to their neigh­bours and down­stream. We are ask­ing the same of the forestry in­dus­try.’’

They would also ’’lobby hard’’ to make all wild­ing conifers a pest within ORC’s pest strat­egy, not just pi­nus con­torta, he said.

‘‘Most of th­ese trees around here wouldn’t be cov­ered un­der that.’’

The wild­ing group has been mak­ing im­pres­sive in­roads to con­trol the spread of wild­ing pines across parts of the Cen­tral Otago land­scape, with some parts be­ing cleared com­pletely.

‘‘We have made ter­rific in­roads...all the wild­ing conifers around Naseby, the Kakanui, Ida Val­ley... it’s all done. It’s just great. I thought we would never get there.’’

A ma­jor fund­ing boost of about $700,000 from the Gov­ern­ment meant a five year pro­gramme would be fin­ished ahead of time, he said.

‘‘It’s in­cred­i­ble. We didn’t think we would have a hope in hell.

‘‘But be­cause we have things like the Naseby For­est and be­cause we have peo­ple amenity plant­ings ad­ja­cent to sus­cep­ti­ble land­scapes for in­va­sion, we are go­ing to have to con­tinue to con­trol them.

‘‘We can prob­a­bly erad­i­cate them out of some ar­eas, cer­tainly re­duce the seed rain. The aim is so in the long-term all landown­ers can prac­ti­cally con­trol the spread of conifers on their prop­er­ties.’’

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Lake Onslow with Trin­ity Foun­da­tion Douglas fir plan­ta­tion in the back­ground. In­set: Phil Mur­ray, of Clyde.

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