Wild­ing conifer app wins in­ter­na­tional award

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

LAND IN­FOR­MA­TION NEW ZEALAND’S SPA­TIAL TOOL FOR track­ing the spread of wild­ing conifers has picked up an in­ter­na­tional award for its in­no­va­tive abil­ity to cap­ture data about one of the na­tion’s most in­va­sive pests.

The Wild­ing Conifer In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem (WCIS) is a web-based map­ping and mon­i­tor­ing tool de­signed to en­sure con­trol of this in­va­sive species is car­ried out in the most ef­fi­cient way pos­si­ble.

It won a Spe­cial Achieve­ment in GIS Award from the United States-based or­gan­i­sa­tion Esri, which spe­cialises in de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing ge­o­graphic in­for­ma­tion sys­tems. This is the sec­ond award for the sys­tem.

LINZ Direc­tor of Biose­cu­rity and Bio­di­ver­sity Dave Mole trav­elled to San Diego to re­ceive the award and he says: “Hav­ing been cho­sen from more than 300,000 can­di­dates, we were one of 180 or­gan­i­sa­tions from around the world to re­ceive an award. The ac­co­lade recog­nises the WCIS for its in­no­va­tive use of map­ping, data an­a­lyt­ics and thought lead­er­ship.

“We de­signed the tool to sup­port the work tak­ing place as part of the Na­tional Wild­ing Conifer Con­trol Pro­gramme. When re­search was first be­ing car­ried out to es­tab­lish the pro­gramme we had pock­ets of data across au­thor­i­ties, so it was dif­fi­cult to ac­cu­rately quan­tify the ex­tent of the prob­lem. Now the sys­tem has painted a com­plete pic­ture across the coun­try.

“Our map­ping has shown the trees cover around 2 mil­lion hectares and con­tinue to spread.”

Around 10 dif­fer­ent ex­otic tree species are classed as wild­ing conifers and they can be found in con­ser­va­tion ar­eas, pro­duc­tive farm­land and iconic high-coun­try vis­tas.

Given their rapid spread, at a rate of about 90,000ha per year, it is es­ti­mated that wild­ing conifers would af­fect 20% of New Zealand within 20 years. Pre­vent­ing their spread is be­com­ing crit­i­cal, which is why the na­tional pro­gramme was es­tab­lished in 2015.

“The WCIS will play an in­te­gral part in mea­sur­ing the suc­cess of the pro­gramme. We now have staff from a range of au­thor­i­ties out in the field us­ing it to map wild­ing conifer distri­bu­tion, den­sity and con­trol ef­forts,” says Mr Mole.

“We hope to even­tu­ally open the sys­tem up to the pub­lic so that any­one can log wild­ing conifers when they see them.”

NZL

Dave Mole, left, and Jerome Shep­pard with the Esri award.

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