Five groups tackling the major problem of wilding conifers have received $345,000 from the Community Conservation Partnerships Fund as part of the War on Weeds, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.
“Wilding conifers cover more than 1.7 million hectares of land, and are advancing at an estimated rate of 5 per cent a year,” Ms Barry says.
“They alter entire landscapes and are notoriously difficult to clear once established, representing a major threat to our unique New Zealand ecosystems, land and farms.”
The funding will enable the groups to increase the amount of wilding control work they undertake, expand their area of operations and make plans for the future. DOC will provide operational and technical support.
Ms Barry announced the funding at the annual meeting of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group. They will receive $10,000 to help set up an ‘Adopt a Plot’ initiative at Ben Lomond in Queenstown from the CCPF.
“Adopt a Plot will allow individuals and groups to help with control of wildings on the slopes of Ben Lomond,” Ms Barry says. “It is an excellent idea to encourage people to roll up their sleeves and actively help rid their community of the wilding problem.”
“By funding community efforts like this and fostering partnerships with DOC we can first control and then push back wildings across New Zealand.”
If left uncontrolled, wildings are predicted to spread across 20 per cent of the country within two decades, at a cost of more than $1.2 billion to the economy.
DOC spends around $10 million a year on weed control, including $3.5 million on wilding management, and has worked with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Land Information New Zealand, regional and local councils, the forestry and farming sectors and other parties on the New Zealand Wildling Conifer Management Strategy.
The five groups receiving CCPF funding are:
- Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group - $157,500 for controlling the spread of wildings from Naseby forest.
- Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group - $10,000 seeding money for Adopt a Plot, a community initiative to control wildings on the slopes of Ben Lomond in Queenstown.
- Ruawahia 2B Trust - $160,000 for wilding pine eradication at Mt Tarawera, Bay of Plenty.
- Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust - $13,800 for wilding control in the Upper Marahau Valley.
- Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust - $4600 for a management strategy for wildings in the Outer Pelorus area.