A Nokomai Helicopters aircraft uses American drift
reduction nozzles when spraying herbicide on wilding pines
near urban areas, as it did on behalf of Doc Wakatipu on
Ben Lomond Station on Tuesday. Photo by Doc.
A swathe of wilding pines in Skippers Canyon near
Queenstown is the target of a new offensive by the Department
of Conservation (Doc) in the war against the introduced tree
which is a menace to biodiversity.
About 35ha of conservation land is being targeted and $20,000
of Doc Wakatipu funds has been set aside for the latest
assault in a long campaign in the valley officially known as
Mt Aurum Recreation Reserve.
''It's part of a wilding pine eradication and removal project
going on for more than 10 years to protect the outstanding
natural landscape and gold-mining heritage,'' Jamie Cowan,
Doc Wakatipu biodiversity threats ranger and Wakatipu Wilding
Conifer Control Group operations manager, said yesterday.
''Several hundred hectares have been done over the last few
years and we're getting down to the nitty gritty.
''We will agree it's not going to look pretty, with a lot
of standing dead trees, and we recognise it's going to make a
bit of a mess, but we have to take a longer view and protect it
for generations to come.''
Mr Cowan said the aim was to return the valley to the state
it was in more than 100 years ago, when it had no exotic
trees. Areas near the historic Skippers School would not be
sprayed. There were some species of pine which did not spread
and added character and shade to the reserve, he said.
Mt Aurum Recreation Reserve will be closed to the public for
wilding pine operations from Sunday morning and will reopen
the next day.
Concessionaires had been advised and ''understood the bigger
picture'', Mr Cowan said.
Residents would not be affected. Signs were posted at
Skippers saddle yesterday, the entry to the valley from the
Coronet Peak access road.
Mr Cowan said a common herbicide named Answer would be
applied by boom spray on a helicopter. Spraying would not be
applied to waterways and measures were in place to stop spray
It will be safe to re-enter the reserve on Monday once the
herbicide had dried.