A $1.3 million financial fillip will help Northland rid itself of wilding pines.
Northland Regional Council has been awarded $1.3 million of funding for 2021-22 under the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme.
Regional council chairwoman Penny Smart said the funding creates a significant opportunity to make further progress in the battle against wilding pines in the region.
The funding includes $960,000 for the Far North (Te Hiku area) and $340,000 for Whangārei Heads (including Parua Bay).
In Te Hiku, the focus of this year's control programme is the Aupouri Peninsula, including Mt Camel farms and Te Paki Station. The funding for Whangārei Heads will continue the momentum of projects already under way at various sites.
The council will work with local iwi, private landowners, weed action groups, local communities, district councils and the Department of Conservation to carry out the work.
"We've made a strong start to this mahi, and it's had some great results. The brown, dying pine trees people might now see around Northland are actually excellent news for our native species. This work is also providing employment for Northlanders, including upskilling and career opportunities for rangatahi," Smart said.
Wilding pines can significantly affect an area's biodiversity and disrupt areas of cultural significance for Māori.
"Some of Northland's most unique habitats are vulnerable to invasion, so it's important to keep on top of this issue. If we can keep the pressure on, and extend that to other areas of Northland in future years, we have a good chance of eradicating wilding pines in Northland within 15 years," she said.
Since Biosecurity NZ, part of the Ministry for Primary Industries, began its latest phase of wilding pines control in 2019, Northland has been allocated more than $4 million to protect vulnerable habitats such as dune lakes and wetlands from encroaching wilding pines.
The latest funding extends the work that began as a Covid relief programme last year.
Becoming part of MPI's national programme is quite a milestone and it represents a significant step up in Northland Regional Council's capacity to deal with this long-standing problem.
The council is also pleased that Te Orewai Te Horo Trust secured $200,000 through MPI's latest round of community partnership projects funding, to help control wilding pines in its rohe.
That work is part of the trust's larger restoration project in the northern Kaipara catchment that involves waterway restoration, fencing, and extensive planting initiatives.
The trust plans to employ locals to control wilding pines across iwi and privately owned land; the council will support the control work over a two-year period.