War declared on wilding pines

By Bob Douglas


In 2011 Victoria Froude produced two reports for the then Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry looking at the increasing spread of wilding conifers across New Zealand and options for their control.

One comment on "addressing concerns was to prepare a national strategy for wilding conifers".

"The first necessary step in preparing such a strategy would be to develop national objectives and principles for wilding conifer management ."

Just six months later, in June, this proposal was approved by the Minister. This may seem an extraordinarily short timeframe for a Government response; so why the rush? After all, scarcely a generation ago, few people knew what a "wilding" was.

The answer lies in the scale of land affected by the spread of wilding conifers. In the South Island around 200,000ha is now considered to be under threat by wilding spread. A further 600,000ha requires some degree of control. North Island mapping is not so advanced, but an estimated 300,000ha is affected by wilding conifers at various densities.

Wilding conifers threaten landscape values, biodiversity and land-use options. Their proliferation and impact has been a constant topic at Federated Farmers High Country conferences since the 1990s.

In 2006 High Country joined with other affected groups to investigate more effective control.

This group became known as the South Island Wilding Conifer Management Group. The support of the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) enabled the group to assemble a good resource base for growing numbers of local groups combating wildings in their areas.

As the wilding research activities extended further into the North Island, the group was renamed the New Zealand Wilding Conifer Management Group (NZ WCMG). This group, together with MPI, will guide the strategy's development.

This year SFF is again supporting wilding conifer control, approving NZ WCMG's research project application to help build the strategy.

The application covered processes to manage and prevent further spread of wilding conifers in New Zealand and work to develop and implement better situation monitoring and document control successes. Understanding the costs and effectiveness of control and management actions are part of the programme, as is finding more efficient Douglas-fir controls.

An important aspect of the project will be transferring knowledge and technologies into the field and supporting the many local groups attempting to get on top of this problem.

 

- Hamilton News

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