Doc Wakatipu ranger and Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control
Group operations manager Jamie Cowan uses a lance spray
from a contractor's helicopter to apply herbicide on to the
trunk of a wilding pine, one of the techniques used to
control and eradicate the introduced pest plants. Photo by
Conservation Minister Nick Smith's dedication of the
Department of Conservation (Doc) to fighting wilding pines in
the Wakatipu basin over the next five years is really a
formalisation of the existing successful partnership.
Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) co-chairman
Peter Willsman, of Queenstown, made the comment yesterday
when asked for the charitable group's reaction to Dr Smith's
pledge this week Doc will carry out all operational work to
help the group deliver on its $5 million, five-year plan.
''It's good news, because Doc and, in particular, [ranger and
WCG operations manager] Jamie Cowan, have technical and
relation work skills,'' Mr Willsman said.
''It's significant, but WCG is paying for it. Doc has put
their $190,000 into WCG, but WCG is putting $126,000 into Doc
to run the project.''
Mr Willsman said it was ''a very positive meeting'' of more
than 60 volunteers, district councillors, Doc rangers and Dr
Smith at the Skyline Gondola premises on Wednesday.
''It was a resounding confirmation for landowners, sponsors
and the community in recognising the conifer threat and WCG
as tackling the problem,'' Mr Willsman said.
Participants were welcomed by Mr Willsman and co-chairman
Grant Hensman, also of Queenstown, who gave an overview of
funding arrangements and of where work was to be carried out.
Group manager Briana Pringle and Mr Cowan gave a presentation
on the progress so far. Their operations summary said 8700ha
of the Wakatipu basin was treated at a cost of $600,700 in
Slightly less ground was covered for slightly more money the
year before, when 7300ha was treated at $637,800.
However, the group's ambitions are far greater for 2013-14.
It is targeting 30,000ha for treatment, at a cost of $1.3
million, the first year of the five-year offensive.
The faces of Coronet Peak, Skippers and Five Mile Creek are
among the areas earmarked.
The Central Lakes Trust contributed the most, at 40% of that
operational sum for work in the field. Land Information New
Zealand gave 33.7%, the district council 9.8%, landowners 6%,
Doc 5%, Skyline Enterprises 3.7% and 1.7% from lottery
funding last year.
The group's next volunteer day to clear wilding pines on Ben
Lomond is November 16.
Free helicopter transport to and from the site is arranged
for volunteers prepared to complete a day's work pulling out