$400,000 lottery grant 'timely' for wilding group

The group trying to eradicate wilding pines on Mid Dome, Northern Southland, has welcomed a $400,000 grant from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.

The grant, announced last week was "very timely additional funding" for the Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust, chairman Ali Timms said.

It would allow about $550,000 to be spent this financial year, about the same amount as last year.

The trust has been working since 2007 to eradicate wilding pines from Mid Dome and surrounding area to protect the ecological, economic and recreational values of more than 100,000ha of high country land.

The trust’s goal is to get the wilding infestations down to manageable levels so that the land can be handed back to landowners for ongoing management.

A variety of methods have been used over the years to remove seedlings, including aerial spraying, ground control programmes, and volunteer work days.

The trust was also battling perceptions, as some people did not see pines as a threat, Ms Timms said.

"Some people see them as a natural part of the landscape, and they’re not."

She said wilding conifers were like any other weed, in that it was always more cost effective to kill them before they grew larger and started producing viable seeds.

That was why much of the trust’s work targeted young and seeding trees.

Despite receiving regular funding from Land Information New Zealand, the Department of Conservation and Environment Southland and one-off additional grants, Ms Timms said the trust was underfunded by $500,000 to $800,000 annually, which made it difficult to get of top of eradication.

Applications were under way for a share of the $16million of new funding over four years announced in this year’s Budget, she said.

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