$1 million boost in fight against wildings
The fight against wilding conifers in two iconic high country areas of the South Island has received a major funding boost, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry have announced.
Work to control the spread of wildings in the Molesworth area of Marlborough and the Amuri block in North Canterbury will receive an additional $730,000 in Crown funding from Budget 2016.
“Both these areas are examples of the precious high country landscapes most at threat from the uncontrolled spread of wilding conifers which choke natural habitat and farmland,” Ms Barry says.
“They now cover more than 1.8 million hectares of land and are advancing at a rate of 5 per cent a year. Once established, wildings are extremely difficult to eradicate, with the cost rising exponentially.
“One or two trees now can turn into a dense forest within 15-20 years if trees aren’t removed before they produce seeds.
“As a Government we committed an additional $16 million to wilding control over the next four years in Budget 2016 because we recognise the threat they pose not only to our nature but also to the primary sector economy.”
The new funding for Molesworth and Amuri will be supported by significant existing investment from LandCorp, DOC, landowners and local government, making a total of more than $1 million.
In Amuri work will be carried out over 298,000 hectares, including throughout the St James Station, which is a significant seed source for the growing Molesworth infestation.
In Molesworth itself, the money will expand efforts to contain the further spread of wildings over 231,000 hectares.
“These two projects will help protect iconic landscapes, farmland and rare plants which are only found in those areas. Controlling the spread will also help conserve precious water in those catchments,” Mr Guy says.
The Budget 2016 funding builds on an existing estimated nationwide control spend of over $11 million each year.
The Right Tree in the Right Place: The New Zealand Wilding Conifer Management Strategy provides a framework for central government, local government, forestry and farming industries, landowners, researchers and communities to work together to reduce the negative impacts of wildings
Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings now, before they start producing seeds, costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost $15,000 per hectare.
Further funding announcements will be made over the next month.