Wilding pines in the Roaring Meg area between Queenstown and Cromwell. Photo by DoC.
If the Otago Regional Council and the Otago Conservation
Board do not join forces with Otago authorities to wage war
against wilding conifer infestations, "our children are not
going to look at anything but pine trees", Queenstown Lakes
Mayor Vanessa van Uden says.
Ms van Uden and Briana Pringle, district forester and
Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group chief executive,
called on conservation board members to voice their support
and lobby the regional council to back efforts by district
councils, the Department of Conservation (Doc), landowners
and volunteers, during the board's meeting in Queenstown
The level of funding will determine "if we win this war" to
control and eradicate the introduced pest which suffocates
native biodiversity and obliterates natural landscapes, Ms
van Uden told board members.
Regional council recognition of the Otago-wide issue was
sought to take the matter to central Government, but its
response was wilding pine infestations were a landscape only
problem and a matter for territorial authorities, Doc and
landowners to deal with, Ms van Uden said.
All Otago mayors and chairmen adopted a deed to form a united
trust, except the regional council.
As much as 73,000ha of the Queenstown Lakes district alone
was infested by wilding pines to some degree. It would cost
an estimated $5 million over five years to contain and
eradicate the dozen species spreading seeds, Mrs Pringle
The control group and partners spent $637,800 in the year
ended April 30 to control and clear 7377ha of land in the
Wakatipu basin. Funds for programmes until the end of summer
2013 totalled $700,000 - short of the $1 million target, she
Board members responded by saying wilding pines were a water,
as well as a land issue, and so were the regional council's
responsibility. Members asked for a list of alternative tree
species to be supplied to Doc for farmers when planting trees
for carbon credits and shelter belts.
Chairwoman Abby Smith, of Dunedin, said board members fully
supported wilding control programmes, as they had for years,
and asked if a member could sit or liaise with the trust.
The board resolved to draft a letter to urge the regional
council to commit to the cause.