$700,000 towards wilding pine fight

Funding from various sources has supplied the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Group with $700,000 to fight wilding pines this summer.

The group's spokeswoman, Briana Pringle, said the season in which contracted workers and volunteers removed pines typically ran from September until May.

The amount was up nearly $100,000 on the previous season and she was pleased with the funding.

''It's an acknowledgement from these funders that this is a critical project, which left unchecked has the potential to completely transform what is an outstanding natural landscape.''

Funding was received from Skyline, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Central Lakes Trust, Lotteries Grants Board, Department of Conservation (Doc), Community Trust of Otago and Land Information New Zealand. Landowners also made a contribution.

Within the amount is about $200,000 from Doc Wakatipu, which is its annual expenditure on the project.

Continued eradication was expected until 2017, when containment would become the focus.

The areas targeted for wilding pine control for the 2012-13 season include the Loch Linnhe faces on the way to Kingston past Wye Creek, Halfway Bay, McKinlay's Creek, the Ben Lomond Station, Moke Lake and Moonlight Track area, Roaring Meg, Ben Lomond faces below Ben Lomond above Fernhill, Bushy Creek, Ben Lomond Station and Closeburn Station.

The fight against the pines, which destroy views and inhibit the growth of natives trees, was progressing well, Ms Pringle said.

New tools, such as a backpack to spot spray, was making the work easier, though chainsaw crews were also used and helicopters were needed to access some areas.

''Each area is so different,'' Ms Pringle said.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden congratulated the funders ''on their vision''.

''To funders that have not come on board or who may be considering supporting this essential project my message is: why not?'' she said.



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