Tack­ling wild­ing pines

Waipa Post - - News -

Mil­lions of hectares of pro­duc­tive and pre­cious land have been cleared of New Zealand’s num­ber one weed, wild­ing conifers, but more work is needed, Biose­cu­rity Min­is­ter Damien O’Con­nor said.

Damien was speak­ing at the New Zealand Wild­ing Conifer Group an­nual con­fer­ence at Omarama to­day, be­fore a he­li­copter tour over the Macken­zie Basin.

“Wild­ing conifers are a se­ri­ously es­tab­lished pest in New Zealand and out-com­pete na­tive plants and wildlife for light and wa­ter, in­fest farm­land and na­tive ecosys­tems and spoil the unique char­ac­ter of iconic nat­u­ral land­scapes such as the high coun­try,” said Damien.

“Hardy, pro­lific and car­ried by wind, wild­ing conifers cover 5 per cent of our land­scape and with­out in­ter­ven­tion would have cov­ered an es­ti­mated 20 per cent by 2035.

“The Na­tional Wild­ing Conifer Con­trol Pro­gramme has now treated half a mil­lion hectares of land and searched a fur­ther mil­lion hectares for out­liers, with 40,000 hectares of dense and mod­er­ate in­fes­ta­tion re­moved — mean­ing con­trol work has been com­pleted on over a quar­ter of af­fected land.

“Pri­or­ity ar­eas will now be tar­geted across an­other 150,000 hectares in Can­ter­bury, Otago, South­land, Marl­bor­ough and the Cen­tral North Is­land.

“We know the cost of con­trol op­er­a­tions in­creases if wild­ings are left to spread so early in­ter­ven­tion is the best op­tion. For ex­am­ple, treat­ing light in­fes­ta­tions can cost as lit­tle as $20 a hectare and dense in­fes­ta­tions up to $2000 a hectare.

“Our suc­cess to date is due largely to col­lab­o­ra­tion. Ev­ery­one from cen­tral and lo­cal govern­ment through to landown­ers, farm­ers, iwi and com­mu­nity trusts have got stuck in to­gether to con­trol the spread of th­ese in­va­sive trees,” said Damien.

To date, the Govern­ment has spent $12.4 mil­lion on wild­ing conifer con­trol, with $5.8 mil­lion from other par­ties.

By 2030 the pro­gramme aims to have con­tained or erad­i­cated all wild­ing conifers.

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