Arduous holiday labour vital to conservation effort

One fewer: Volunteer Warren Knox, of Dunedin, removes a wilding tree from a Naseby property...
One fewer: Volunteer Warren Knox, of Dunedin, removes a wilding tree from a Naseby property during a recent working holiday. Picture: Supplied
For most people, holidays go hand in hand with leisure activities.

Hacking down wilding pines is not usually top of the list of ‘‘things to do'' but six volunteers recently chose to spend their holiday time doing just that.

They were part of the volunteer working holiday programme run through the Otago and Southland conservancy of the Department of Conservation.

Doc Central Otago community relations programme manager Amanda Ware said the work of the volunteers was invaluable.

‘‘Volunteers like this make a huge contribution,'' Miss Ware said.

‘‘It's amazing that they give their time so generously to help us with projects like this.''

The volunteers and three Doc staff worked for four days clearing wilding pines on the McMillan family property near Naseby.

‘‘The work was done in conjunction with the property owner and it was largely followup work to what the owner has been doing for the past 20 years,'' she said.

The area covered was about 200ha, between the Naseby Forest and the conservation estate on the Ida Range.

‘‘Control in this area is vital to stop the trees spreading. It's really a buffer zone between the forest and the conservation estate and the property owner has been working hard to stop the spread of trees, so we thought we'd give a hand,'' Miss Ware said.

‘‘A lot of good work has been done in the past so we want to ensure that we keep on top of any regrowth. Projects such as this, with a large group of people, allow us to do this.''

The majority of the work involved felling small pines by hand sawing, with some smaller trees able to be pulled out by hand, she said.

The volunteers were from throughout Otago.

‘‘Because of their help, we were able to cover a huge area.''

The Otago and Southland conservancy organises several volunteer working holiday projects every year.

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