Wilding pines: group gears up for war

Wilding pines spread over hills near Alexandra. Photo supplied.
Wilding pines spread over hills near Alexandra. Photo supplied.
Wilding pines, described as an invasive species threatening Central Otago landscapes, are officially under attack.

Earlier this month the Central Otago District Council initiated a meeting of key stakeholders including the Department of Conservation (Doc), Land and Information New Zealand, Forest and Bird, Federated Farmers, the Central Otago Environmental Society, MAD4CO (Making a Difference Central Otago) and interested residents.

The group has been tasked with researching the extent of the wilding pine problem and how best to deal with it.

It was agreed that as well as developing an action plan, the group would promote awareness and education in relation to wilding pine issues.

"Our traditional landscape values and conservation lands are at risk from the march of these exotic invaders and it has become apparent that something needs to be done," council chief executive Phil Melhopt said.

Earlier this year, the council committed $10,000 towards wilding pine control for the 2012-13 financial year. It was intended the funds be used to develop a wilding pine control action plan and to help launch the formation of a Central Otago control group.

Doc has also pledged $10,000 towards the development of a Central Otago wilding pine control group and action plan.

Doc Central Otago area manager Mike Tubbs said the department had successfully been carrying out wilding pine control on conservation land and adjoining properties for many years.

"It's great to see the wider community interest in this issue. The cost of doing nothing is too huge."

The next meeting of the Central Otago Wilding Pine group will be in a few weeks. Anyone interested in joining or taking part should contact Mr Melhopt at the council.


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