In the “South Island wilding conifer strategy

The threat from wilding conifers.
A wilding conifer

Wilding conifers presently threaten over 210,000 hectares of land administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC) in the South Island; this is why DOC has developed a South Island Wilding Conifer Strategy.

Wilding conifers threaten land administered by other agencies, leaseholders and landholders as well; co-ordination between all stakeholders with values at risk is essential if effective wilding conifer control is to be achieved.

Wilding conifers can be wind-dispersed over considerable distances. Conifers can produce thousands of seeds by 8 to 13 years of age; these can disperse over 10 km in favourable conditions.

Failure to undertake wilding conifer control can result in:

  • loss of conservation values
  • reduced stream water yield
  • reduced profitability of pastoral farming
  • restricted access for recreation, and
  • transformation of landscapes

DOC's South Island Wilding Conifer Strategy quantifies the problem, identifies the conservation values at risk, outlines DOC's obligations and identifies actions for effective control.

Lack of wilding conifer control leads to escalation of costs: potentially from $2/ha to $1,500/ha in less than 20 years.

DOC spent at least $236,000 and 3686 hours of staff time controlling wilding conifer infestations in the South Island in the 1999/2000 financial year. An additional $112,000 has been allocated to new wilding conifer projects in the 2000/2001 year.

The DOC South Island Wilding Conifer Strategy does not oppose managed conifer plantings. These can provide a valuable resource for, long-term sustainable management of rural land in the South Island, but the land owners must accept responsibility for wilding spread.

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