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New DOC assault on high country wilding pines

18 Jun 2004

New DOC assault on high country wilding pines

Big increase in funding to tackle one of the high country's worst weeds

The Department of Conservation (DOC) will launch a major assault on one of the largest weed problems in the South Island High Country, wilding pines, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"DOC's control of wilding pines in the high country is to increase 43 per cent, thanks to a $718,000 a year increase in funding specifically for the task, " Mr Carter said.

"Wilding pines are a significant threat to regenerating forests and the spectacular tussock grasslands of the South Island High Country. The pines are long lived and can out-compete plant species in most environments enabling them to swiftly dominate open landscapes and ecosystems completely altering their character," Mr Carter said.

"Dense infestations of wilding pines can also reduce water yields from stream catchments, reduce the profitability of pastoral farming, and restrict access for recreation.

"The problem we face is that unless we deal with wilding pines now we will have exponentially larger difficulties tomorrow. DOC estimates the cost of controlling wilding pines right now is about $2 per hectare. Unless we act vigorously in 20 years time the cost is predicted to be as high as $1500 per hectare."

Mr Carter said while much of the new control would be focussed on conservation land, it was likely neighbouring farmers would also benefit.

"Wilding pines don't respect boundaries so we are going to have to work with whole communities to tackle this problem. I would expect to see DOC seeking to conduct wilding pine control on farmland neighbouring conservation land, where it has the permission of the landowner. This will benefit the farmer and the public."

The department would also be working with forestry groups, regional councils, community groups and land management agencies, Mr Carter said.

"This investment is further evidence of the government's commitment to the long-term health and well-being of the high country, one of the most beautiful and dramatic areas of New Zealand," he said.

Editor's Note: Wilding Pines are characterised by their ability to disperse, and the vigour of their growth. They can produce cones at between eight and thirteen years of age, and produce vast quantities of seed that can be dispersed for distances of over 10 km.

ENDS

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