Forests keep threat alive
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.’’
Lake Onslow with Trinity Foundation Douglas fir plantation in the background. Inset: Phil Murray, of Clyde.