Wilding conifer app wins international award
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.”
Dave Mole, left, and Jerome Sheppard with the Esri award.