More wilding pines are in for the chop at Rings Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Rings Beach Wetland Group has received $90,000 from Waikato Regional Council's natural heritage fund established to preserve native plants and animals, threatened ecosystems, outstanding landscapes and the natural character of waterways and coast.

Wilding pine infestations on pastoral farms can decrease production. Threatened habitats and species can be displaced, and they reduce the stream water yield in flow-sensitive catchments. Mountain biking, horse riding and tramping can be affected, and wilding pines also increase fire risk. But the real threat for the Coromandel Peninsula is to coastal cliffs, dunes and regenerating forest.

"That's why it's so great to see volunteers, like those involved in the Rings Beach Wetland Group, getting stuck in to protect the natural character of this area," said committee member and Coromandel constituency councillor, Dal Minogue.


The group, a subcommittee of the Coromandel Peninsula Coastal Walkways Society, successfully applied for a three-year grant of $90,543 in instalments to help control wilding pines, and augment an existing trap network for possums, rats, mustelids and cats for a 270ha block of regenerating forest, including 4ha of wetland at Rings Beach.

Group secretary Ian Patrick said previous funding from council and other organisations had helped them make good progress.

"We're doing it in a staged way to promote the growth of new plantings, which are providing a good food source for the native birds returning to the area. Our aim is to restore the area to the way it would have been prior to the arrival of pioneers," Mr Patrick said. Since the project began in 2008 it has had up to $260,000 through grants and donations.

"While looking a bit untidy initially, the growth of native trees is truly dramatic and within a few years fallen pines will virtually disappear under the new growth." Native species - kauri and kahikatea - dominate rainforests and some shrublands. In the right place, conifers provide shelter, and opportunities for recreation and income. Wilding are non-native conifer trees establishing by natural means. Left unchecked, they'll infest farmland, native ecosystems and water catchments.

Seeds are often wind-dispersed seed, and unplanned and unmanaged wilding trees will grow much faster than native species, restricting sunlight and absorbing much of the available water.