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Parker: Wilding Trees Charitable Trust

Hon David Parker
Minister for Land Information

30 August 2006

Speech

Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust – inaugural meeting
Address to the trust at the Royal Mail Hotel, Lumsden, 12.30pm

Thank you for inviting me to address this inaugural meeting of the Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust.

I congratulate you on the initiative you've shown in setting up this trust, to deal with the threat posed to the high country land by the spread of wilding trees.

This government believes in protecting our natural environment, and maintaining the clean green image that is so central to our nation's identity, and plays a part in our export trade and of course in attracting tourists here.

It's clear that wilding trees are, literally, a growing problem, and one that needs to be taken seriously.

This is a pest that can, over time, gradually reduce the usefulness of pasture land, make major changes to our natural landscapes, and compromise the value of conservation efforts. We need to find ways to take action both against the wilding trees, and against the source of wilding seed in plantation forests and other plantings.

Today I will speak to you about how the problem has developed, and describe some of the ways in which I see us working in partnership to start solving the problem.

Mid Dome

In the case of Mid Dome, as in some other areas, the spread of wilding trees is coming from Crown administered plantings. In other areas, wilding pines are spreading from trees planted on private land. It is a problem we have brought upon ourselves by failing to anticipate, a number of years ago, the wider effects of establishing a plantation.

I know that the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment has an annual programme of spraying to help eradicate wilding pine trees at Mid Dome, and has already completed its programme for this year.

I understand that DoC will be holding a public meeting in September to talk about last season’s spray programme, and to let the community know what will be done in next year’s programme.

NZ Biosecurity Strategy

In New Zealand we have a responsibility to protect our relatively remote group of islands from incoming pests and diseases – not an easy task in these times of global trade, international tourism, and climate change making our environment susceptible to new pests.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry administers New Zealand’s Biosecurity Strategy. Land Information New Zealand is well on the way to developing a plan for how it will undertake its responsibilities.

LINZ Biosecurity Strategy

The LINZ Biosecurity Strategy was released in draft form for consultation in May 2006, and will be finalised over the next few months.

One of the most important issues that strategy will address is that of wilding trees, and the matter of who is responsible for their control.

On pastoral leases, leaseholders are responsible for biosecurity under the terms and covenants of their lease, and must also comply with the Biosecurity Act.

However, in the case of wilding trees, there are factors that make a partnership approach desirable.

One of these factors is that the source of wilding seeds may be from plantings on other land, for which the lessees are not responsible.

Another issue is that the problem, in some cases, is of such a size that it would be difficult for lessees and private landowners to resolve alone. In such cases it’s in everyone’s interests that we work together.

Hence, we come back to the need for partnership.

The Importance of Partnerships

It will be impossible to resolve the problem of wilding trees unless those concerned work in partnership. LINZ administers much of the land in the South Island high country, but if we are to take an effective area-wide approach to pest control, all the relevant central government agencies, district and regional councils, leaseholders, land owners, volunteers, and advocacy groups need to work together.

LINZ supports this approach and looks forward to working with territorial authorities, DoC and Federated Farmers to develop accurate risk assessments, and using effective and scientifically sound methods of control.

As you know, LINZ, along with Environment Southland, has funded the establishment of this Trust, which aims to attack the secondary spread of wildings originating from trees in the Crown administered Mid Dome forests.

I hope that this will provide a successful model for dealing with wilding trees in other areas, as well as other pest management problems.

Another approach currently being taken is to work on ensuring that future tree plantings take account of the threat of future wilding spread. This is not just relevant to LINZ-administered land but also to freehold land. District plan rules may need modification to deal with this issue.

LINZ is considering carrying out a study of the spread of wilding trees in the South Island high country to gauge the full extent of the problem. This type of study would provide extremely useful data for tackling the problem over the longer term. One of the key objectives of the LINZ Biosecurity Strategy is information sharing and making LINZ biosecurity data available to other agencies, so if this study is feasible, LINZ will be making the data available to all interested parties.

Conclusion

Ladies and Gentlemen: thank you for inviting me here today. The South Island high country is a special part of New Zealand, and it is important that we look after it, and ensure it is not degraded for future generations. The Crown and organisations such as this Trust are working in partnership to achieve that. There are a lot of challenges in this area, but if we continue to work together, I am confident that we can achieve a positive future.

ENDS

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