Funding sought for wilding problem

Wilding pines near Alexandra. Photo: Supplied
Wilding pines near Alexandra. Photo: Supplied
After a successful three-year programme which has included initial wilding clearance work over 60,000ha and a start made on spray control of core wilding areas, the Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust is preparing a business case to be put to Government for a further four years of funding.

Mid Dome trust chair Ali Timms said that while there had been gains in some areas in the battle against the wilding infestation, it was important to continue to work hard to address the problem.

''We've proven that it is possible to make progress against the spread of the wilding trees,'' Ms Timms said.

''A large number of organisations, including scientists, farmers and community groups have worked to develop a set of proven techniques to address the problem, and it was important to access further resources to maintain momentum.''

According to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), wilding conifers cover more than 1.8million hectares of New Zealand, and the areas of infestation have continued to expand. MPI says the wilding trees are a major threat to our ecosystems, land and farms, competing with native plants and animals for sunlight and water, and severely altering natural landscapes.

''As well as facing the continued spread of the conifers in many areas, costs were continuing to escalate,'' Ms Timms said.

''If we want to get a proper return on our investment, we need to act sooner rather than later.''

Ms Timms said there is potential for employment gains as part or the control programme, stretching seasonal activity in the forestry sector into year-round employment.

In a development supporting action against invasive tree species, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has released an app which allows users to see for themselves the spread of wilding conifers, as well as upload their own images to help identify new invasions across New Zealand.

LINZ Biosecurity and Biodiversity Director Dave Mole said the new information and images from land owners and the public will improve efforts to tackle the spread of wilding conifers.

''Our knowledge of where wilding conifers are located has significantly increased since the launch of the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme in 2016,'' Mr Mole said. ''Part of that has been the creation of the Wilding Conifer Information System, which allows authorities to enter details of where wildings are located and the control work taking place to eradicate them.''

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