Skippers township and bridge in 2013. Photo supplied.
Spraying and removing all remaining Douglas fir and larch
trees on public conservation land around the historic Skippers
township is set to start today.
The work will be carried out by the Department of
Conservation (Doc) in conjunction with the Wakatipu Wilding
Conifer Control Group.
Doc Wakatipu said the operation would require the closure of
the reserve from the Skippers bridge for the day.
Regular commercial users have been informed and signs will be
posted at Skippers saddle.
The targeted trees act as seed sources, resulting in the
spread of trees across the landscape, which has dramatically
changed the scenery over the past century. The latest wilding
pine control effort intends to protect the historic,
recreational and biodiversity values of land around the
Resident Colin Macnicol said his father, who was raised in
Skippers, ''was saying 50 years ago we're going to have to do
something about the pine trees, so I'm very pleased to see
the spray work being done. It's the best way to restore the
land back to what it used to be.
''The spraying originally looks devastating, but it will
disintegrate over time and in the future will be
The works are part of a district-wide wilding pine control
programme. Since 2006, about $400,000 has been spent on
aerial and ground control of wildings in Skippers alone.
Doc commissioned an independent report by Peter Petchey, of
Southern Archaeology Ltd, on the history and cultural
significance of the trees at Skippers. The report
acknowledges the cultural and recreational significance of
the trees, but accepts the ecological need for the remaining
trees to be removed.
The department was seeking funding for a conservation plan
for the Skippers township to investigate suitable replanting
options and how best to manage the site, Doc conservation
services manager John Roberts said.
''Long term, we want people to be able to better enjoy the
historic and recreational opportunities in Skippers.
''Our plans will likely include improvements to the camp site
and walking tracks. Replanting with non-spreading trees will
form an important part of any works and we will make sure the
character of the area is restored,'' Mr Roberts said.