CODC allocates $10,000 to wilding pine control

Wilding pines could soon come under attack in Central Otago after the district council set aside $10,000 in its draft long-term plan to look into the issue.

The money will be used to develop a strategy and help create a group to address the issue of the trees.

At its meeting last week, the council heard from artist Grahame Sydney, who said if nothing was done to stop the spread of the trees, the Central Otago landscape would be "obliterated".

"It is my contention, and I believe it should be of immense and immediate concern to the council, that the magnificent, unique and justifiably beloved landscapes of this province - especially in its once barren heart, Central Otago - will be obliterated forever by the unhindered, devouring spread of wilding pines," he said in a written submission.

The council also heard from members of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group, established in 2009, about its success controlling the trees in the Wakatipu Basin.

Group chief executive and Queenstown Lakes District Council district forester Briana Pringle told the council a few lone trees, if the soil conditions were right, could "explode" into a forest.

In the Wakatipu Basin, they were dealing with a 73,000ha infestation, but in the past year, they had managed to clear 10,000ha of trees, at a cost of $628,000, she said.

Department of Conservation ranger and group member Jamie Cowan said the cost of controlling the remaining trees over five years would be $5.73 million.

Ms Pringle and Mr Cowan said that, in relation to the trees, Central Otago was in the position Wakatipu was in 15 to 20 years ago and the best thing to do would be to get on to the problem sooner rather than later, because it would be easier and cheaper.

As the $10,000 for the wilding pine strategy is included in the draft long-term plan, the public has the chance to make submissions on the issue.



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