Christmas has come early for those battling the spread of wilding conifers in Central Otago.
Two grants have been announced in just over a week for two separate programmes aimed at controlling wilding pines on the Dunstan Mountains, the Kakanui Mountains, the Mt Ida Range, St Marys Range, the Hawksburn, between Clyde and Bannockburn, and Danseys Pass.
Yesterday, Transpower announced it would give $50,000 to the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group to eradicate wilding trees in Hawksburn and Danseys Pass.
Group manager Phil Murray said the grant would be used for removing seedling trees and reducing seed spread in the area. Transpower's stakeholder engagement manager Geoff Wishart said Transpower recognised the importance of the removal for the area's biodiversity. The grant is through Transpower's Community Care fund.
Last week, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said more than $1million would provided in extra Government funding for wilding control covering 680,000ha of land in Queenstown and Central Otago.
The new Crown funding was supported by significant investment from Land Information New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, local government, volunteer groups, community trusts and private land occupiers, Ms Barry said .
Mr Murray said the aim was to reduce wilding conifer spread on extensive "vulnerable'' high alpine country.
"The funding is really good news. We're near a tipping point and if we don't act now, it'll be too late.
"Every dollar spent today is worth more than a million in the future, if the problem becomes intractable,'' he said.