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Feds Relieved Wilding Pine Control Efforts To Ramp Up

Federated Farmers is relieved to see the government put more muscle today behind a nationwide plan to tackle more than 800,000 hectares of wilding pine infestations.

Last week’s massive fire in the Mackenzie Basin burnt an area of 2,000 hectares, mostly the pest ‘wilding’ pine trees and scrub.

Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare went to the Mackenzie District last week to survey the fire damage near Lake Pukaki, the spread of which has in part been attributed to the wilding pines.

The government had already put $100 million in the Budget this year for the Jobs for Nature programme. Over $36 million of that funding will be spent in the next 12 months as part of a four-year programme. That will see the work extended from 19 to 58 sites across New Zealand.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for pest management Chris Allen says "we have watched this massive problem unfold over the last 30 years, as the uncontrolled pines are slowly and quietly sown across the landscape."

"It’s beyond many a landowner to tackle the spread.

"This is a good start, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is really required for full eradication and control," Chris says.

"More than 36 million a year for four years on one pest, this gives you an alarming insight as to just how much investment is required to take care of the land, every year farmers spend a significant amounts of money and time on controlling the other pests such as pigs, gorse, broom, hiracium, wild deer, wallabies and of course rabbits.

Feds is also worried about the legitimacy of so-called dryland parks, as they have potential for enormous fire risk.

"Rank grass left ungrazed is a fire risk, the wildings are the fuel, and there is a great deal more to controlling this pest than simply trying to eradicate it.

"We need to consider the environment that allows them to thrive and look carefully at how land is managed in a sustainable way that benefits and protects people and property.

"To win the wildings battle, the war chest needs to be more like $25 million a year and not limited to four years, then we may see some wins in terms of control."

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