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A further $145,000 will be invested in the restoration of native beech forests, boosting the Government’s efforts to protect our native species, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today.

The funding from the Government’s Community Environment Fund will go to the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) and the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust (WRT), to help transform previously Wilding infested sites to indigenous forest.

The three-year Wakatipu Beech Seeding Project aims to restore natural heritage in the wilding-conifer-infested areas of the Wakatipu Basin and its tributaries around Queenstown, by encouraging community planting on public land, and establishing a food source for native birds.

“Community-based, large scale re-forestation to pre-human native forest cover is ambitious and challenging.  So it’s great to see these local communities coming together to protect New Zealand’s unique natural heritage,” Mr Simpson says.

“Without initiatives like the Wakatipu Beech Seeding Project we would be in danger of losing our indigenous trees and plants to the fast growing and tenacious imported exotics such as pinus radiata that have invaded and degraded many areas over the last 100 years.”

WCG and WRT will work collaboratively with the Queenstown Restoration Trust, DOC, QEII National Trust and Scion to develop efficient methods and protocols to collect and store indigenous seeds from the region, develop seeding protocols and test new techniques that can aid community-based large-scale seeding into dead wilding stands.

The project will train community-based volunteers in seed collection and sowing and how to monitor and record results of the re-forestation projects. The project will share its learnings with community groups both regionally and nationally to help them undertake projects of a similar nature in their own area.

“The ability to show success is vital to gain community involvement for restoration projects. In this project, community members will be able to record and disseminate data to report on the development of the restoration project by using a citizen science based monitoring framework.”

The groups plan to develop a smartphone-based monitoring application to allow for easy recording, automatic upload and processing, and analysis of field data, with results being shared with local communities.

The Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) was established in 2009 and is committed to control wilding confers in the Wakatipu Basin to prevent future negative impacts on the natural biological heritage in their area.

The Wakatipu Reforestation Trust (WRT) focus is to restore natural heritage in the Wakatipu area by encouraging community planting on public land, and establishing a food source for native birds

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