Taking wildings seriously

The wilding conifer issue is so significant for Central Otago the area's representative on the Central Otago control group should be a Central Otago District councillor and not an employee.

That was stated in a report by parks and recreation manager Mathew Begg and considered by the council last week.

It recommended Cromwell councillor Shirley Calvert, rather than a council staff member, sit on the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group.

The council, as an organisation, had an executive position and as the group was changing its focus, it was felt the role would suit an elected member, he said.

The group was gaining momentum and funding applications were well under way, the report said.

An application to the Community Conservation Partnerships Fund was successful and $157,500 was granted to control the spread of wilding trees from Naseby forest.

At the meeting, Mr Begg said the control group was starting to move into the next phase of its operation: control and eradication.

The council acts as treasurer to the group and supports it through rates funding of about $10,000 annually.

Parks team leader Ian Mann is on the group, which has charitable status.

Chief executive Leanne Mash said the council's representative role would focus on governance of the group.

Cr Clair Higginson said Cr Calvert, who was absent from the meeting, was knowledgeable on the subject as she was involved when the group was being set up.

Councillors nominated Cr Calvert to stand as representative on the group until the next local body elections.


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