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Silky Saw partnership – a discount for a key tool

Hand saws are a key weapon of choice for many on the front line of wilding control. Now thanks to a partnership with Silky Saws https://silkystore.co.nz/ you can purchase your tools of choice at a discount price.

The Silky Saws online store is packed full of high-quality tools for manual field work. Loppers, folding saws, spare blades, belts and sheaths to name but a few. Visit www.silkysaws.co.nz and simply enter the code WILDPINE10 during checkout to automatically receive a 10% discount off your purchase.

The team at Silky recommend the Silky Super Accel (pictured below) – a popular choice for wilding work. It’s a 210mm length folding saw that is only 200g in weight, so it’s very easy to carry around and use all day.

We are extremely grateful to Silky for this great offer so please take advantage of this deal – support Silky Saws and support the wilding programme.  Great for community groups hosting volunteer days, or contractors and landowners looking to upgrade their toolkit or simply relace worn out gear.

It’s always good to get photos in the field with the saw being used – please take them so we can show Silky how much we appreciate their support. Send photos to jo@wildingpinenetwork.org.nz.

Finding solutions to big challenges… a great example from Central Otago

Shelterbelts are an essential tool in exposed landscapes to protect property, get a garden or crops to grow as well as protect stock. Conifers in the form of pines, firs and cedars were found to be the easiest to establish and have been widely planted, however some of the species planted in the past have tended to spread and, in some instances, resulted in a major pest control cost.  

The Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group is encouraging landowners to transition Pine and Douglas Fir, particularly Pinus contorta, shelterbelts, to non-spreading species. Check out their Dry Central Otago Shelterbelt Guide below. Learn more about their work and if you live in Central and want to help visit their interactive and informative website https://www.centralwildingconifers.co.nz/

The plight of the MacKenzie

The MacKenzie basin in Canterbury is the largest and least modified intermontane basin in New Zealand but it’s under siege from wilding pines. Endless and vast landscapes endure the relentless march of wildings. They stretch from the flat land in the valleys to the tops in the far distance.

Photos: R. Young

Despite many years of intensive management some areas feel like ground zero when you visit – wilding pines are everywhere and so dense you can’t walk through them. Reducing funding is incredibly challenging anywhere but confronting in this landscape when there is still so much to do.

The community groups who work in the wilding space are relentless, strategic and innovative in their efforts to get the message out about the extent of the challenge. Being relentlessly positive and taking every opportunity at the local level to get the message out is how we will win this battle. We congratulate Wilding Free MacKenzie with their You Tube video featuring three well known Kiwi’s – Nadia Lim, Sir Grahame Sydney and Al Brown. It’s a short punchy wee piece: http://Iconic kiwis on wilding pines (youtube.com). Watch and encourage others to do so. Get in Behind Wilding Free MacKenzie. Wilding Pines have no place here.

Shotover Management Area – shot of seedling trees

Well-deserved congratulations to Otago Regional Council, Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Group and landowners involved with the almost 67,000-hectare Shotover Management Area. The area is located to the northwest of Queenstown and is a stunning landscape but a challenging one to work in due to its size and challenging terrain. The Shotover management area includes Mt Aurum, Skippers and Macetown areas, and has undergone 16 years of consistent effort involving multiple organisations and many volunteers. Tenacity and perseverance have paid off.

Get the full story from the recent Radio New Zealand article https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/513822/dealing-with-fast-spreading-pest-hits-new-milestone-for-otago-regional-council.

Management Units Active in 23/24 Financial Year

Management units are the administrative boundaries that New Zealand has been divided into for
the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme (NWCCP) administered by MPI. There is a total of 129 management units. They cover private and public land.

Those in green below are the ones that are active (receiving funding from the NWCCP) in the current financial year. The majority are in the South Island because the need for control and the scale is greater than in the North Island.

The decision on which management units are active is based on a series of criteria that include extent of spread, impacts on biodiversity, productive environment etc. Which areas are controlled and how many is largely determined by available funding.

ECAN WILDING PINE HANDBOOK

The go to guide for Cantabrians

This comprehensive handbook developed by ECAN (Environment Canterbury) is for landholders wanting to remove planted and/or wilding pines and prevent their spread. It combines resources from across the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme (NWCCP).

Mt Cook Road looking northeast – July 2023. SPOT THE WILDINGS! Photo: Jo Ritchie

Significant strides have been made in combating the wilding pine problem across Canterbury thanks to an injection of funding via Budget 2020, and the hard mahi (work) of ECAN staff, contractors, landholders and national programme partners.

From this financial year ECAN is operating on significantly reduced funding, so a strategic and prioritised approach is being worked on.  It means control work by landholders, businesses and community groups is going to be more important than ever.

There’s a bit to understand when it comes to controlling pest pines so to make it easier, ECAN created a handbook that combines resources from across the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme (NWCCP). 

You can use it to:

  • Identify the species that are a problem on your land.
  • select the best method to control them.
  • choose suitable replacement plants that deliver what you need without creating problems for you and your neighbours.

You can download the handbook below or contact ECAN to get a hard copy.

OR https://www.ecan.govt.nz/your-region/your-environment/our-natural-environment/pest-management/wilding-pine-programme/

This is a great easy to read “A-Z” of wilding control and management – Get in Behind and support this great initiative by removing trees and replanting with good species that don’t go wild and spread the word.

Photo: Jo Ritchie

Wildings on the march behind Manuka Terrace in Twizel October 2022. If they grow much higher and denser these iconic Canterbury Hills will become invisible….

Persistence of triclopyr, dicamba, and picloram in the environment following aerial spraying for control of dense pine invasion

Congratulations to Carol Rolando from SCION who won the front-page competition for the above article (also see link to article below) in the Weed Society of America journal.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/EC888894C5B7A927AD5E5A3E0C06CD8D/S1939729123000202a.pdf/persistence-of-triclopyr-dicamba-and-picloram-in-the-environment-following-aerial-spraying-for-control-of-dense-pine-invasion.pdf

Management implications from the study are as follows: While the treatment is effective, given the large amounts of active ingredient used (∼20 kg ha−1), practitioners have concerns about the persistence of the herbicides in the environment and the potential impact on future restoration efforts. The objective of this study was to determine the persistence of triclopyr, dicamba, and picloram in cast needles, forest floor, mineral soil, and stream water following aerial spraying of P. contorta with the operationally used herbicide mix at three geographically distinct locations in New Zealand. A lack of laboratory capacity for testing aminopyralid in New Zealand precluded its inclusion in this study.

Key results of this study were:

  • All three herbicides (triclopyr, picloram, and dicamba) were still present in the forest floor layer 2 yr after spraying; that is, herbicides were retained in a heavy lignin-rich layer of dead/cast needles overlaying the soil.
  • Only triclopyr was detected in the soil for the first year after spraying.
  • Where a no-spray buffer zone (30 m) was used on the edge of streams intersecting the aerially sprayed area, herbicides in water did not exceed environmental exposure limits when rainfall occurred shortly after spraying.

The persistence of the active ingredients in the forest floor litter layer is unlikely to pose a risk to terrestrial organisms but could persist at levels that affect revegetation efforts that commence within 18 months after aerial spraying.

Concern as carbon offset partnership plants pines in biodiversity hotspot.

Please read the article in the link below.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/133063759/concern-as-carbon-offset-partnership-plants-pines-in-biodiversity-hotspots

It covers a conundrum that is occurring all over Aotearoa. This one in South Marlborough occurred prior to the changes to the NES-PF (National Environmental Standard – Production Forests) in early November 2023 that have now become the NES-CF (NES Commercial Forests. Refer previous post on this and link below: https://environment.govt.nz/acts-and-regulations/regulations/national-environmental-standards-for-commercial-forestry/

Photo: Supplied by DOC

The green dots, right, high on the bank of Ben More Stream, surrounded by bush, are pine seedlings at Dryland Carbon’s Matiawa property north of Kaikoura. Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls took the photo, looking downstream from Matiawa’s boundary with Isolated Hill Scenic Reserve.

There is not a lot of logic planting a tree species (Douglas fir) for carbon offsetting on the boundary of a conservation area (the Branch Leatham catchment) that is being significantly impacted by that same species especially when DOC (who Air NZ is a sponsor of) and the South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust are working really hard to remove wildings in the catchment.

Photo: Anthony Phelps/STUFF/Marlborough Express

In photo: Steve Satterthwaite of Muller Station, left, and Ket Bradshaw, South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust coordinator talk about wilding pines in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough.

A very well written article with views from all sides. Its’ an interesting irony – on the one hand companies offsetting their carbon on the other that offsetting will create significant adverse environmental effects in a high biodiversity area next door.

Vive La Resistance – Managing wilding conifer reinvasion – the science that helps our work.

Scion is one of the lead providers for the science that helps wilding control work. The goal for Vive la résistance (VLR) is to achieve one important impact for New Zealand: To optimise wilding conifer management for the long-term by minimising re-invasion and maximising the resilience to re-invasion of vulnerable landscapes.

The outcome of VLR is to enhance nationally coordinated wilding management with scientifically robust solutions that mitigate re-invasion of controlled but still vulnerable parts of our productive and conservation lands. Achieving this outcome starts with more targeted strategies to deploy enhanced control of primary infestations in conjunction with follow-up approaches that both overcome the invaders’ resilience to control and increase natural resistance to re-invasion.

Three key areas of work are the following:

Quantifying reinvasion – sampling post control wilding infestations along a time, space and invasion level; gradient – a global first attempt to collect unbiased population data to understand reinvasion of tree invaders.

Quantifying cone traits of Pinus contorta has indicated that New Zealand possibly hosts a unique invasive conifer, an intra-specific hybrid between coastal and inland sub-species’ of P. contorta that produce larger cones and more viable seeds than the sub-species in their respective home ranges, traits that could contribute to the species’ increased invasiveness in New Zealand.

Understanding and preventing re-invasion – Testing the effect of ‘beyond control’ management practices (such as soil disturbance, competing vegetation, browsing on reinvasion and identifying which management techniques increase reinvasion resistance. This includes testing whether native plant species can be used to restore land and reduce reinvasion following control.

Managing reinvasion – Using a model to predict the dispersal of wilding seed.

To read more – and it’s a very good read see below…

For more information, please contact Carol.Rolando@scionresearch.com or Thomas.Paul@scionresearch.com

$7 million dollar boost to wilding pine funding for 23/24 financial year

The extra funding was announced by MPI at the 2023 Wilding Pine conference heled in October in Queenstown. It has been provided by the Department of Conservation. The extra funding will be prioritised to areas that have the most spread-prone species of wilding pine, the vulnerability of surrounding land and the area-to-cost ratio. We will provide more information in the coming weeks.

Source: https://www.centralwildingconifers.co.nz/

The impacts of the funding and the need for more funding in Otago was well put in a media article recently that interviewed Gretchen Roberston, chair of the Otago Regional Council. https://crux.org.nz/crux-news/wilding-pines-control-gets-7m-boost/.

Wilding conifers: why long-term environmental issues need long-term funding.

Thank you to everyone (around 160 of you, an all-time record!) who attended our recent conference in Queenstown either in person or online. The conference included a keynote from Simon Upton the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Source: L. Prebble.

It was an excellent insightful and frank talk that covered 3 key points:

  1. There is little point in starting jobs you don’t intend to finish.

This references the varying levels of funding for the national wilding programme and uses the 2022 Cost Benefit Analysis to support the need for sustained ongoing secure funding at 100% of what is needed not the current 58% (actually 63% for 23/24 financial year with the $7mill boost to current work from DOC announced at the conference).

If the Government does not find the funding to follow through on the wilding control investments it has made over the last three years, taxpayers’ money will be wasted as wildings reinvade some of the weed-shaped holes that have been created.

2. Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility – not just the Government’s.

Responsibility for wilding control should not rest solely with taxpayers. There are industries both contributing to the problem and benefiting from containing it. The Government is entitled to ask them to contribute – but it won’t get far if its own commitment is shaky.

3. Conifers are not our only priority.

The Government needs to get wilding control funded on a long-term sustainable basis because there are scores of other plant pests just getting going on the invasion curve.

You can read the speech by clicking on the links below:

https://pce.parliament.nz/our-work/news/address-at-the-wilding-pine-network-conference-2023/.

You may also be interested in the media article that appeared in Stuff and the Timaru Herald as a result of this presentation https://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/133158620/wilding-control-responsibility-not-solely-taxpayers-responsibility-parliamentary-commissioner-for-the-environment

Changes to the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (now Commercial Forestry) – effective from 2nd November 2023

The National Environmental Standards for Commercial Forestry (NES-CF), formerly the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF), are for managing the environmental effects of plantation and exotic continuous-cover forestry (sometimes called carbon forestry). A commercial forest is defined as an exotic continuous-cover forest, or an exotic or indigenous plantation forest.

Changes have been made to how commercial forestry is managed to give councils more power to decide where new forests are located. Exotic continuous-cover forests (carbon forests) are now managed in the same way as plantation forests. The changes improve the management of the effects of large-scale forestry on the environment and communities. This will ensure the long-term sustainability of new and existing exotic forests. The changes also ensure the regulations deliver the right type and scale of forests, in the right place. This is an action in the first Aotearoa Emissions Reduction Plan: https://environment.govt.nz/publications/aotearoa-new-zealands-first-emissions-reduction-plan/.

It means carbon foresters now have to comply to the same rules as plantation foresters including the use of the Wilding Pine Calculator https://www.mpi.govt.nz/forestry/national-environmental-standards-commercial-forestry/wilding-tree-risk-calculator/– this should help prevent new exotic forests going into high wilding risk areas (i.e., Score >11 requires a discretionary resource consent from the respective TA.)

The new timeline for giving notice to plant is up to 8 months prior to planting or a minimum of 20 working days.

The planter must now supply a working sheet to the respective Territorial Authority (TA) or Regional Council (RC) within that time frame showing how the wilding risk calculator score was derived  If this is challenged successfully then the planter would  have to apply for a discretionary resource consent – which very much puts the onus on the planter to get the notices in early and  to ensure that they are right first time to avoid costly delays.

Now replanting of a forest is also subject to the wilding risk calculator and TA/RC scrutiny which means that species or siting choices can be adjusted to ensure risks are minimised and by applying appropriate conditions.

Foresters are now only allowed to carry out low density harvesting (which leaves 75% of forest canopy intact in each harvest cycle) as a permitted activity. Any higher intensity harvesting would require applying for a resource consent to do so. Slash management has been introduced which will be aiming to reduce the risk of major offsite problems that have emerged over the last few years. These will not apply to wilding forests and their control because they are outside the definition of a planted exotic continuous cover forest.

Local Government has a big role in all of this. They can charge for monitoring which previously they were not. To quote: “The NES-CF gives councils more control over the location of new plantation and exotic continuous cover forests (afforestation). This means councils can introduce (if they choose) more stringent or lenient rules that reflect the views of their communities regarding new forests. If they choose to make new rules, they will need to go through the usual plan making processes, including public consultation. If councils have already made rules about exotic continuous-cover forests, they can keep those rules.”

To read more about this head to: https://environment.govt.nz/acts-and-regulations/regulations/national-environmental-standards-for-commercial-forestry/. If you just want to have a gander at the summary fact sheet, see below.

WPN submitted on the discussion document which informed the redesign of the NES-PF in August 2023. Our submission is below. The discussion document had a series of questions. WPN limited its responses to those questions which directly related to wilding pine management. You can read the full discussion document on the MPI website https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/57448-Proposals-to-redesign-the-permanent-forest-category-in-the-New-Zealand-Emissions-Trading-Scheme-NZ-ETS.

As you can imagine with complex matters such as the above it takes time for those undertaking the policy side of the work to read through all of the submissions, report back to their Ministries and work through the decision-making process to arrive at the end documents such as the NES-CF.

Political party stances on wilding pines

A big thanks to Lauren Prebble from Marketellingenz in Cromwell who manages our social media. She canvassed all the political parties to get their position on wilding pines.

Hirakimata – Mount Hobson summit looking north – wild as and wilding free – Aotea Great Barrier Island Source: Jo Ritchie

Not very illuminating and it feels like although the environment is the basis of our wellbeing and economy, that it is not a high priority for most political parties. Other than climate change there has been very little discussion about how we address the current state of our biodiversity and biosecurity. Regardless we will wait and see who gets elected and how they walk the talk.

Here is what political parties had to say..

National Party

National understand the issues of wilding pine and it is something that we will address if we are fortunate to make Government.

Act Party

ACT has no specific policy on wilding pines. However,:

  1. The funding for DOC has increased by 50% since 2017. ACT will seek to make efficiencies within the conservation budget to fund frontline maintenance of the conservation estate;
  2. Private landowners, especially those with forest, have a responsibility to maintain their properties and manage risk to neighbouring properties. ACT is considering, as part of its broader RMA reforms, how property owners take greater responsibility for the risks they create. This could also be tied into the review of the Biosecurity Act and ensuring that those who create the risk bear the costs.  

Green Party

Wilding conifers affect more than two million hectares of Aotearoa at varying densities. They reduce water yield to streams and wetlands, create a fire risk, are a major threat to farm land, ecosystems, indigenous vegetation and iconic landscapes such as the Mackenzie Basin.  Without a nationally co-ordinated programme it has been estimated that 20% of New Zealand will be affected by wilding conifers within 20 years.

The Green Party strongly supports investment in wilding conifer control. The Greens pushed for a significant increase in Government funding last term. This resulted in $100 million over four years for wilding control in line with the Wilding Conifer Management Strategy. This was a major increase from $16 million over four years provided by the last National government. The $1.2 billion Jobs for Nature package in Budget 2020 as part of the government’s Covid Recovery programme was a Green Party initiative. It has included a number of wilding control projects such as on the Cragieburn Range.

The effectiveness of a nationally led programme to tackle wilding conifers in co-operation with landholders is proven. Funding needs to continue at a similar or increased level to that provided currently, to protect past gains and to deal with infestations such as in Marlborough’s Branch and Leatham catchments and reduce the area of vulnerable land exposed to wind-blown seed spread.

Labour party

  • In 2020, the wilding conifer effort was boosted with a four-year injection of $100 million from the Jobs for Nature programme as part of the Government’s response to the pandemic.
  • The programme has put this funding to excellent use, exceeding targets over the past three years.
  • Though the Jobs for Nature funding has come to an end, the programme now has secure funding of $10m per year through to 2030 and beyond. This is significantly higher baseline funding than was previously available and gives the programme certainty into the future.
  • We believe that the energy companies in the South should also contribute to wilding pine control—the pines compete with the dams for water, removing an estimated 20% from catchments.
  • Our focus is now on maintaining and building on the results the Labour Government’s substantial investment to date has achieved.

Fears over falling funding for wilding pine control.

Smoke drifting across Lake Pukaki from the large blaze at Pukaki Downs (in mid-September). Photo: RNZ / Nathan McKinnon

Listen to a good interview from 27th September with Kathryn Ryan from RNZ – Clint Miles from Mt Cook Station and Sherman Smith from the National Wilding Programme

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2018908684/fears-over-falling-funding-for-wilding-pine-control

Clint gives a pragmatic perspective from a landowner whose property when they took it over was 2/3rds covered in wilding pines. Most have been cleared and put back into pasture, but 700 hectares still need to be cleared. He acknowledges the huge role of national programme funding but is clear progress will go backwards quickly with the funding reduction. Sherman provides perspective on the national programme.

Pulling government funding from wilding pine programmes poor planning

Otago Regional Council chairwoman Gretchen Robertson has written an opinion piece in the Otago Daily Times and describes wilding pines around Central Otago as ticking biological timebomb.

Her piece is reproduced below or read it direct in the ODT https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/pulling-government-funding-wilding-pine-programmes-poor-planning

They choke out native biota, reduce stream flows, increase fire risk, and impact iconic landscapes.

That means that current plans to reduce central Government funding to combat the wilding pine problem in Otago could not have come at a worse time.

This is an important issue for our region. Our iconic landscapes need our attention; they are highly vulnerable.

Otago is ranked as the third-most pine-infested region in the country.

About 8.4% of the region’s land area, 295,830ha, is affected by wilding conifer spread according to a 2016 report.

It is possible the current extent of the problem is even larger. Although yet to be quantified on the ground with surveys, a more recent desktop exercise puts the estimated area at 589,072ha.

These figures indicate the current scenario. Of real concern, however, is the potential for greater infestation if we do not maintain or enhance current control work.

About 70% of Otago is assessed as ‘‘very highly vulnerable’’ to future infestation, making it the most wilding-prone land in the country.

This is not an unsolvable situation. There has been great progress managing vast areas of infestation.

It’s crucial we do not go backwards now.

Not maintaining the gains is a wasteful, soul-destroying outcome for tax and ratepayers.

Great work has been done here in Otago through the national wilding conifer control programme.

This is led by Biosecurity New Zealand, administered regionally by the ORC and managed locally by the Department of Conservation.

Otago groups providing on-the-ground leadership in wilding control are the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group, the Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group and the Upper Clutha Wilding Tree Group.

Iwi, forestry, agriculture, conservation groups, regional and unitary councils and central government agencies are all actively collaborating to address this ongoing issue.

There has been a huge amount of successful work to date. To inadequately fund existing programmes now simply does not make sense, even through a purely economic lens.

A government-funded report (Sapere, 2022) shows that continuing control work across the existing national wilding conifer control programme presents an impressive economic return of 34:1 — the benefit-cost ratio. Sapere also estimated a net loss of $3.8billion over the next 50 years, if the proposed reduced funding was at $10m per year.

Economics are not the only concern.

Once these stands reproduce into dense, impenetrable forests, they out-compete the native plants and threaten native species and habitat, water resources, cultural values and food production and also increase the risk of wildfires.

We need to be finishing the job in the areas we have already started, so the funds already invested are not wasted and future expenses are massively reduced.

To date regional control efforts have been a collaborative effort, with a total of $21m spent since July 2016. $17m has been contributed from the central government national wilding conifer control programme.

A further $4m has come from landowners, central and local government agencies, community groups and grants.

Government investment to date has made a huge difference.

We are really grateful, particularly for the positive impacts the Jobs for Nature programme investment has had since 2020. But the signalled funding reduction from 2024 means recent progress is now at significant risk.

When Jobs for Nature funding investment ends in June 2024, this leaves $10m per annum central government funding for the control programme nationally.

At that point, control activity would be scaled back nationally from 49 active management units to just 10 over a four-year period.

That would mean less than half (42%) of the known national infestation would be actively managed, while spread and regrowth would continue in the otherwise abandoned areas.

In light of this forecast reduction, here in Otago this year there is no national programme funding being spent on widening initial control areas. Efforts are focused only on maintenance of previously visited sites. Indeed, trees remain in unmanaged areas spreading seeds.

While $10m per year is budgeted nationally for the next decade, regional councils are urging the government to commit to additional funding by a further $15m to a total $25m each year, for each of the next 10 years.

We are really at a funding crossroads and must not lose our momentum.

We need further commitment now to ensure prioritised control units are finished. At that point responsibility would sit with landholders for ongoing control.

There will never be a cheaper time to get on top of this significant regional issue — further central government investment is needed now.

Awatere Farmer Steve Satterthwaite gives his perspective on the dire straits of wilding funding.

A really good interview with Steve Satterthwaite from Muller station in Marlborough. https://www.rexonline.co.nz/home/podcasts.html. Scroll down and look for this podcast:

Steve talks about his perspective as a large high-country landowner but also as a member of the South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust and the challenges of getting New Zealanders to understand the scale of the problem in our remote not often seen alpine landscapes. Landscapes we stand to lose if we are unable to resolve the current funding situation.

Steve suggests that funding needs to be guaranteed, pan government and industry wide – a levy similar to TB eradication in NZ – a benefit to NZ Inc not just pastoral farming. It needs to be a funding solution compounding year on year (for at least the next 15 years) as trees are growing and guaranteed funding from year to year and not reliant on 3-year parliamentary cycles which provide little security long term.

It’s a pragmatic and strong argument to finish the job.

The compounding threat of invasive alien species

Biological invasions cost the global community an estimated USD$423 billion in 2019, and those costs have quadrupled every decade since 1970.

The Assessment Report on Invasive Alien Species and their Control

https://www.ipbes.net/IASmediarelease

 is a new report released by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), looking at one of the five most important direct drivers of biodiversity loss. The authors say ambitious progress in tackling invasive alien species is achievable, but governments and different sectors have to start collaborating more to get the job done.

New Zealand’s science media centre http://www.sciencemediscentre.co.nz asked local experts to comment on the report. It’s a challenging read because of Professor Jacqueline Beggs from the University of Auckland says ““New Zealand, with its unique native plants and animals, is now a battleground against alien invaders”.

There are some relevant statements for the wilding pine challenge:

“Tackling the problem cannot consist of blindly condemning any non-native species, instead, carefully weighing off all five mentioned environmental pressures and with a cost-benefit analysis is critical. This leads to some tricky and highly political questions in the example of Aotearoa/New Zealand: with a given amount of money, say one million $, should we attempt to remove an aggressive weed from an area, or instead plant a few hectares of pine forest (which will likely turn into native forest over time) that quickly removes carbon from the atmosphere and prevent the loss of species locally and globally through climate change mitigation?” Professor Sebastian Leuzinger, School of Science, Auckland University of Technology.

“Professor Stoett’s optimistic concluding message that ambitious progress in tackling invasive alien species is achievable must surely be tempered by the magnitude of the resourcing lift and shift that would be needed to implement the containment and/or eradication needed to address the ever-increasing flow of ecosystem capturing alien invasives threatening New Zealand’s environment and economy.

“Two recent concerning examples of inadequate management responses in New Zealand are the national funding cutbacks for wilding pine control and the arrival of the golden clam in the Waikato River. In the first case (wilding pines), the good progress made in recent years is likely to stall and the previous investment squandered by not continuing control efforts. And in the second case, the golden clam, recognised globally as a serious infrastructure and environment threat, was overlooked for at least two years, followed by an insufficient response”.  Professor Bruce Clarkson, Environmental Research Institiute, University of Waikato.

“Incursions of invasive and unwanted pests can affect entire communities, this includes indigenous people, the public, businesses and industries. They can have rippling environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts, which are often irreversible. Dr Beccy Ganley, Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital.

The report has also been summarised in https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/497337/invasive-species-cost-global-economy-more-than-400-billion-per-year-study-finds.

Short term gain, long term pain:

The damaging consequences of cutting funding for environmental regeneration.

Pioneering wilding pines on the march across iconic Central Otago landscape

Alexa Forbes, an Otago Regional Councillor has written a thought-provoking story on her blog site www.alexaforbes.blog about funding declines using wilding and wallabies as examples. Check out the link below or go to her blog.

https://www.alexaforbes.blog/post/short-term-gain-long-term-pain?fbclid=IwAR0vtifBpg3BQpb1uFc1Vtj5IOkWuD4j2NquIL2k73u6e-KxX-oDLtQ7mvk

I am sure Alexa’s words will resonate with everyone working in the wilding as well as the biosecurity space:

The impacts of inadequate funding are far-reaching. Beyond the immediate loss of progress, the resurgence of these pests threatens the fragile balance of New Zealand’s ecosystems. Native plants and animals face greater pressures, leading to diminished biodiversity and ecological instability. And the economic repercussions are huge, as industries reliant on undisturbed landscapes, such as tourism and agriculture, suffer and lose immense future opportunity. And spare a thought for the poor contractor, scaling up and down, buying and selling equipment amid uncertainty.

Let’s call for New Zealand to reevaluate its approach to funding conservation efforts. Instead of repeating the mistakes of the past, lets adopt a forward-thinking strategy that emphasizes long-term investment in environmental restoration and pest eradication programs. Actually, just reaching for the goals we’ve already agreed on the the world stage would be a great way of continuing this work. Getting on with funding the plans we have to safeguard our environment is a no brainer on every level. It’s economically sensible (minimum $20 – $1 cost benefit ratio), it helps us reach our global agreements, it makes us all feel better because our world is better and it’s a promise to future generations that we will protect the natural treasures that define our identity.

LET’S FINISH THE JOB!

Taking the axe to wilding pine funding

Please find below a great article that featured in the Sunday Star Times on 3rd September and also in the Press. We are very grateful to Andrea Vance for a thorough story and to those who were interviewed – Graeme Sydney, Al Brown, Jono Underwood and Steve Satterthwaite.

Wilding pines in the MacKenzie Country. Source: John Bisset/ STUFF

Tell your story in your local media and or on social media. Why does this issue matter to you?

Fears war on wilding pines is losing ground.

Pete Oswald, Project Manager for the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Group (https://www.centralwildingconifers.co.nz/about) did a late-night interview on Radio New Zealand.

It’s a great interview as it is both a personal and professional perspective on the diabolical challenge, we are facing that ends with how we explain to the next generation that we lost the battle with yet another biosecurity challenge. Changing the current situation is how we ensure we leave our natural places in a better condition to what they are now…

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/nights/audio/2018903891/fears-war-on-wilding-pines-is-losing-ground

Backsliding in the battle against pest species

A great story on Radio New Zealand recently featuring Grahame Sydney who is a champion of the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Group. The story is about declining funding for the environment and its effects on communities. 

As well as his intimate knowledge of our iconic landscapes Grahame has watched one tree grow to many from his home as shown in the pictures below. Grahame hits the nail on the head in his interview. A very timely and much needed balance to public funding cuts talk. Click the link below to listen.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/the-detail/story/2018904456/backsliding-in-the-battle-against-pest-species

2022 Cost Benefit Analysis finally available – Harness its power….

After nearly a year of waiting this invaluable document is now available. Now that funding for the national programme has been reduced by 75%, this cost benefit analysis is a critical document in our work to recover the funding we need to keep the programme on track.

Please take the time to read the document. Harness its power. Get facts and figures out in your community, in the media and in letters and meetings with politicians. Use it to support funding applications.

Page 8 summarizes 4 investment options:

1) Status quo “losing the investment” – reduce funding to $10 million per annum and scale back
control activities to 10 management units. 20:1 Cost Benefit Ratio
2) Minimum “protect the investment” – continue control activity across the existing 49
management units – 34 to 1 Cost Benefit Ratio
3) Intermediate “extend the investment” – expanding the activity to include a further 11 priority
management units – 33:1 Cost Benefit Ratio.
4) Maximum “national control” – the intermediate option plus a further 19 priority management
unit – 32:1 Cost Benefit Ratio.

The results also show that the minimum option “protect the investment” delivers the greatest return
on investment. This is to be expected and reflects the programmes prioritisation of control activity.
and previous investment in these areas.

The analysis also shows that with Jobs for Nature funding ending in 2023/24, the remaining $10 million per annum funding stream (the status quo option) is “insufficient for the programme to achieve control of wilding conifers on a national scale, with control activity scaled back from 49 active management units to 10 over a four-year period. Under this scenario, 42 per cent of the known national infestation would be actively managed while spread and regrowth would continue in the abandoned management units…” This would result in a net loss of $3.8 billion over the next 50 years. While still good ‘value for money’ in the sense that it is better than not attempting to control wilding conifers at all it represents a significantly worse outcome than the other options analysed”.

We strongly suggest that the only option to support is the fourth – Maximum national control. New Zealand’s history is littered with biosecurity mistakes and lost opportunities that have cost us dearly. Wilding pines do not have to be another of these. Maximum national control is the go-to option over all of the others because they would only partially complete the national programme and would leave significant areas of NZ either under or untreated. This would mean the threat of both invasion and reinvasion would continue and would impose much larger costs in future. The maximum option would allow the programme to be completed over all of NZ not just part.

So – LETS FINISH THE JOB. We ask that you read the Cost Benefit Analysis. Maximise the investment and prevent another national biosecurity disaster. Don’t accept mediocrity – support the maximum. Retain the momentum.

LET’S FINISH THE JOB – Check out a great RNZ story from Pete Oswald, Project Manager for the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Group. It encapsulates why we need to FINISH THE JOB:

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/nights/audio/2018903891/fears-war-on-wilding-pines-is-losing-ground.

Musing on the future of wilding control with Federated Farmers

Check out a great podcast on FEDSNEWS. https://fed-talks.simplecast.com/episodes/musing-on-the-future-of-wilding-control

In January 2023 FEDSNEWS reported that the future of wilding pine control was uncertain – with funds signaled to reduce to a $10m annual baseline.

On Tues August 1st FEDTalks spoke with WPN Chair Richard Bowman about how NZInc. could best continue the effort, given the lion’s share of funding is budgeted to leave the tent. Richard is also joined by Feds Board member Toby Williams and Feds General Manager Policy and Advocacy Paul Melville.

It’s well worth listening too so tune in and send the link around to other interested people. We need to get the message out that we need to finish the job – not stop when it’s half done. Make it an election issue.

2023 conference registration now open

       http://Wilding Pines Conference 2023 – Wilding Pine Network NZ

We look forward to seeing you at the 2023 conference from 18-20 October at the Memorial Hall in Queenstown. “Wildings in the Backyard” has a people focus because they fuel the engine that is the wilding pine and conifer control programme. There is also an online option for those unable to travel.

There is a great line up of subjects and speakers and two field trips to experience the work of local groups and agencies but also to enjoy the stunning central Otago scenery.

Register as soon as you can to get the best travel rates. The venue is an easy walk from central Queenstown.

We would also like a couple more sponsors. If you are interested, please head to the sponsors section on the conference page.

2023 Conference – Wildings in the Backyard Sponsorship Opportunities

Our 2023 conference is being held in Queenstown at the Memorial Hall owned by the Queenstown Lakes District Council who have generously provided this venue free of charge. We are also grateful for their advice and support with logistics. We have also received sponsorship from MPI, Boffa Miskell, Scion, Orion Agriscience and Eradus and Tipping Point wines. We extend huge thanks to these companies.

We would still like a couple more. Conferences are expensive to run. Sponsorship helps with many aspects but particularly with keeping our registration fees at a level that enables people to afford to come in person.

We will recognise sponsors on our website, on the conference programme, on the screen in the conference room and at key events at the conference. You will get display space and a chance for a 5–10-minute slot to discuss your products/business. Other benefits are dependent on the amount sponsored. Please refer below and attached if you are interested and contact: jo@wildingpinenetwork.org.nz . We would really appreciate your support.

Funding cut a major blow for Mid Dome

26th May 2023

Mid Dome in Southland is a prominent landmark between Queenstown and Invercargill. It’s pretty much ground zero for wilding control work. Between the 1950s and 1980s Crown agencies (MWD, NZFS) and local authorities planted P contorta (contorta pine) and P mugo (mountain pine) to stabilise hillside and prevent erosion and runoff into surrounding farmland. The pictures above show the industriousness of the planter and the challenging country they planted into.

Wilding control started at Mid Dome in the mid 90’s. The Mid Dome Trust was formed in 2006 – a community partnership to try and increase funding as significant tracts of land had been invaded. It wasn’t until 2017 when the national programme funded started that real gains started to be made. Since then, significant areas have been cleared as can be seen in the map below. The project now considers it is over halfway there.

BUT that can quickly be reversed with the 2/23rd reduction in funding from the 23/24 financial year.

The two photos above show spread downwind of Mid Dome into the Upper Tomogalak catchment and the success of the control work by May 2015 but it also shows trees that still need to be controlled. Although many of these probably have by now, the photo illustrates the essential need for ongoing maintenance at sufficient levels to completely remove trees and get them before they seed.

The Mid Dome Wilding Trust has estimated the impact of underfunding as summarised in the graphs below. It’s grim stuff. 2/3rd’s less funding means funding needed to recover lost gains accelerates rapidly. If the Trust is not funded to aerial spray at the levels needed, it will set the project back 10 years and increase eradication casts by $13 million.

Earlier this week, the Trust took politicians and councilors on a tour to illustrate the importance of the work, the significant gains made and to stress the essential need to continue funding at sufficient levels to keep sustaining the gains and complete the work so that land can be handed back to landowners. A link for the PowerPoint present is below.

The visit was picked up by the Otago Daily Times a longtime supporter of the wilding battle. A link to the article by Helen McFelin is below. Thanks Helen and ODT.

Brian Hore’s father Frank was a man ahead of his time. The Hore’s own Nokomai Station. Brian says his father Frank tried to have the trees removed, but the High Country Committee dismissed him and called him Pine Tree Frank. If only they had listened.

Ali Ballantine, chairwoman of the Mid Dome Wilding Trust is ready to walk away. ‘If this is not dealt with these wildings will stretch to Central Otago. They have a monoculture that wipe out everything else around them and spread prolifically”.

Richard Bowman, a Trustee and the Wilding Pine Network chair described the loss of funding as devastating. ‘It’s like a knife to the guts, with all the hard work disappearing down the tube”.

As Fred Dagg used to say GET IN BEHIND – we all need to increase our efforts to get the message out that funding cuts are simply not acceptable. We need to mainstream this point beyond our own converted networks to get the politicians to stand up and take notice. There is a small window of opportunity up to the elections. The knife is better used on trees and not to the guts of what to date is an extremely successful programme with impressive results and an extraordinary national partnership.

We want to see our natural environments look like the shot above… NOT THE ONE BELOW

Vive la resistance – the science of managing wilding conifer reinvasion.

Yep, great job done -all those seed trees and their offspring removed but under the ground lies viable seed and/or over the hill are big trees with seed and prevailing winds that send those seeds into treated areas leading to reinvasion. Insidious, constant and pretty challenging to stop.

For the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme (NWCCP) to be successful effective strategies to create long-term resistance to re-invasion on treated land are essential. This is the role of the five-year (2021-2026) MBIE Endeavour Funded research programme: ‘Vive la résistance (VLR) has the ambitious goal of stopping wilding re-invasion! Achieving long-term success in managing wilding conifer invasions.

Pinus pinaster seedlings at Wainuiototo/New Chums Coromandel

Re-invasion processes differ significantly from those of initial invasion and a critical international knowledge gap exists on which major factors interact to drive conifer re-invasion. Building on the recent MBIE Endeavour Programme “Winning against Wildings” (2016-2021), “Vive la résistance” aims to disentangle the multiple drivers of re-invasion to overcome this gap and address the devastating problem of wilding conifer reinvasion.

Below is a summary of how the program works – an upcoming story will be on some of the work being undertaken.

Wilding conifers in a warming world – Talk by Tom Carlin – Scion – May 29th – 3-4pm on Zoom

https://horizonsrc.zoom.us/j/86328227087?pwd=aktiU0wzSDdsdW1qcGdqVUg5N3pTUT09

I write this post after 2 days of sunshine and now we are back to rain. The land on the farm that we live on in the Kaipara Hills is just sodden and can’t hold any more water, so it just slips despite native planting and forested (native and exotic hillsides all around us). It feels like the new normal. Creeks once lined with established wetland plantings are now lengths of gloopy sand mud and tangles of reeds and grasses, flaxes and cabbage trees as below. There was a crossing just below here and a culvert…

A new creek has formed after a spring replenished itself in one hillside that then slipped away (the photo below) so Tom’s talk is timely. Listen in on the zoom link above.

Tom’s talk covers how climate change will affect Aotearoa by increasing temperatures, wind speeds, and precipitation clines. Species distributions, dispersal, and life histories will undoubtedly be affected by this. Wilding conifers, which are an environmental disaster that already cover 1.5M ha of Aotearoa and threaten a further 7.5M ha in the next 30 years, are of particular concern. Invasion fronts are likely to increase in speed due to stronger winds carrying seeds further, with warmer climates leading to earlier, longer, seed rain events. Tom will discuss some of the issues we expect to face with wilding conifers in the future, looking to areas similar to NZs future climates for guidance.

He will also highlight some of the significant knowledge gaps around reinvasion after wilding conifer control, and trait differences between conifers in NZ compared to their home range. In the near future we expect to face significant hardships due to range and trait shifts, alongside a dwindling budget for control efforts.

Knowing when native regeneration is for you and what you should do about it.

Last year I visited Motupohue/Bluff Hill at Bluff in the South Island. I am used to the fast-growing nature of our native plants in the Hauraki Gulf and Northland, and I find it hard to get my head around the shorter growing seasons in many areas of the South Island and how long it takes for many South Island species to grow.

At Motupohue the tenacious and smart work of the Bluff Hill Motupohue Environment Trust has led to native regeneration that looks like it’s on steroids from the small understory colonisers – ferns, hebes and poroporo with its showy purple flowers to mid canopy species like makomako/wineberry and akepiro/tree daisy. It’s a stunning sight especially when you consider the placement of this hill right next to the wilds of Foveaux strait where the wind can blow you off your feet.

A key stage of wilding pine work is what to once you’ve got rid of all the trees or at least most of them. Do you leave nature to its own devices and hope for the best, do you give it a bit of a helping hand e.g., animal and pest plant control or do you go all out and get into a restoration project and planting up a storm?

Adam Forbes and a group of researchers from Manaaki Whenua have just collaborated on a really interesting paper entitled Knowing when native regeneration is for you, and what you should do about it. The Aotearoa New Zealand context.

The paper describes a step approach for assessing at a site scale whether forest restoration can most efficiently be achieved via active or passive methods, or combinations of the two.

The assessment covers the main biotic and abiotic factors which explain the probability of native tree establishment. These factors are mean annual rainfall, mean annual air temperature, proximity and composition of adjacent seed sources, landform type, slope aspect, slope, topographic exposure, and the presence of existing woody cover.

The authors then describe the main management interventions that will be required to support successful natural regeneration outcomes and highlight the importance of strategic natural regeneration for achieving large scale restoration for the betterment of both our climate and biodiversity.

It’s a really easy to read and thought-provoking paper with excellent advice on how to make informed pragmatic decisions as to whether to let nature take its course, give it a bit of a helping hand or help it a lot. I think it’s a really relevant paper with where some wilding projects are at in their management cycle and even for some that might be starting and thinking about what to do when we have controlled all the trees as often good planning starts by working backwards from your ultimate goal.

Whakatipu Wildings on Rural Delivery

A really great insight into the work and challenges of the Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group fronted by Will McBeth of DOC aired on Rural Delivery on Saturday 6th May. 2023

” The cost benefits of control are compelling. Approximately for every $1 spent on control – there is $30 plus dollars of economic gains back – pasture protection, water yield, recreational values and biodiversity gains all add up to a really strong argument to preserve our natural environment from this ferocious pest.”

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/rural-delivery/episodes/s2023-e7.

It’s well worth watching and makes the work to keep funding at levels where gains continue to be made very compelling. It stresses the importance of raising awareness to get acceptance for the work and for funding to continue. It also graphically shows how far seeds can travel in montane landscapes.

Wilding conifer quick guide

The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme have just released an updated id guide.

You can download it here https://www.wildingpines.nz/spread-the-word/image-gallery/species-gallery/

There are approximately ten introduced conifer species that are responsible for most wilding conifers in New Zealand. The most invasive species, the Lodgepole (contorta) pine, is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993, meaning they cannot be bred, propagated, planted, distributed or sold.

The most spread prone wilding pine species can be found in our Wilding Conifer Quick ID guide. You can view and download a printer friendly version of the guide using the settings below.

Downloading the new guide published in April this year will give you better quality when printing. To print as an A5 booklet, make sure your printer is set to print as “booklet” otherwise each page of the guide will print on a single A4 page.

Thanks, MPI for a great little tool.

Freshwater yields and why wildings matter

Water is the lifeforce that powers the land, whether it be pastoral or horticulture farming, forestry, hydro generation, towns and of course our natural environments. The presence of large wilding pine and conifer forests can severely impact on the volume of water in catchments.

“Wilding conifers reduce surface flows and aquifer recharge in water-sensitive catchments. Less flow means less water for farmers’ irrigation needs, hydroelectric generation, or outdoor recreation use. And less water for those plants and animals that live in and around our rivers. This reduction of water due to wilding conifers spread impacts on water availability for irrigation and electricity generation in water sensitive areas like Southland, Otago, Canterbury and Marlborough.

Wildings – Jollies Pass Road – Hanmer April 2023

Climate change is likely to increase wilding conifer spread and reduce water yields in regions that are experiencing hot and drier, and water shortages. As well, water quality and water quantity are required to sustain native plants, animals and ecosystems. Controlling wilding conifers to maintain water yield is a compelling argument”. This from the 2018 Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) for Phase 2 of the Wilding Pine Programme produced by the Sapere Research Group.

The Sapere report indicates that impact on water yields is significant. The CBA reviewed various studies. Where pastureland becomes covered in wilding conifers, this reduction in annual water yield has been shown to range from 30-81% (with the upper end of that range recorded in dry South Island sites). For example, one study at Glendhu Forest in Otago measured the effects of converting tall tussock grassland to radiata pine. Results showed a water yield reduction of 40-45%, 22 years after the trees were planted. It is expected wilding conifers will have similar impacts on water yields compared to planted trees.

At the time of writing the Sapere report it was acknowledged that most wilding conifer infestations are currently sparse and do not have a significant impact on water yields. As wilding conifers grow and spread, they will form dense stands and there will be increasing impacts on water yields over time. Travelling around the country it’s obvious this has changed. The Branch-Leatham catchment in Marlborough is such an example at scale with its expansive pure Douglas fir dominated wilding tree forest from the valley floor to the mountain tops and beyond.

The extent of the problem in places like the Branch Leatham with no end in sight prompted Paul Williams from the South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust to write a submission on freshwater management for the Marlborough Environment Plan as it relates to National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020. The submission highlights concern that invasions of wilding conifers already will be affecting water yields and water quality from infested catchments and if left unchecked, existing infestations will continue to spread from ‘seed rain’ at an exponential rate with consequential dramatic effects on downstream water quality. Vulnerable south Marlborough rivers include the Clarence, Awatere and Wairau.

The Branch Leatham catchment extends over some 52,000ha of coning trees and much of that is at high elevations with the infestation covering indigenous alpine rock lands and also smothering indigenous tussock land, scrublands and bush at lower altitudes.

Paul references the Glendhu study but also two more recent studies which predict the effects of water yield reduction should the Mackenzie basin become dominated by wilding conifers. One study indicated a reduction of 53.5 cumecs of water in the Waitaki (S.M. Thomson, NIWA) and the other estimated the reduction at 50.8 cumecs (Mason 2016, Landcare Research. This has major implications for power generation let alone the many native plants and animals that rely on minimum flows in these waterways and equates to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost hydro generation.

Peter Hore from Glenshee station in the Maniototo area of Cental Otago shares these concerns. Peter relies on irrigation for some of his farming operation and has lived in the area all his life. He has watched wilding trees emerge and dominate landscapes over the last 40 years or so years. He says he has seen the trees take up to 70% of the water out of a catchment and is concerned they could dry up all the waterways if not removed – you can’t farm without water.

It is a particular issue in periods of low flows – the Sapere CBA suggests 16% was the average reduction in water yield based on work done by Scion in 2015 based on three South Island catchments. Scion noted this assumption was possibly conservative because the reduction in water yield from dense wilding conifer stands could be higher than from afforestation as wilding stands might have a much higher interception effect, because of their rougher canopy surface. In addition, wilding conifers might occur in the far upper reaches of catchments and therefore can affect low flow yields more significantly than mid-altitude afforestation’s.

Bottom line is wilding pines and conifers, and water catchments don’t mix whichever way you look at it. We have moved on from past use of these trees for erosion protection and land stabilization in the top of catchments. We endure the costly legacy of wildings from these plantings in many areas today.

Lake Tennyson on a still clear April 2023 day

Although there are some people that say any tree is a good tree in these environments as they sequester carbon and protect erosion prone hillsides – our natural environments are under siege and our unique native species of plants and animals are still in decline and even in 2023 with all our knowledge and experience some are close to extinction.

Removing ALL invasive exotic species from these places is key to changing this as is ensuring that the life force – water – that powers these places is protected in a manner where sufficient flows and yields are maintained year-round. For wilding pines and conifers that means permanent removal and continued proactive vigilance to stop them re-establishing. I for one have a sinking feeling when I visit places like Jollies Pass (refer above photo) but feel uplifted and privileged to be part of a project that is keeping places like Lake Tennyson in the St James Valley as they are – iconic, breathtaking and worthy of protecting for the role they play in our natural world but also to ensure future generations can enjoy them in this state forever.

National Exotic Forest Description

A really informative report has just been jointly released by the NZ Farm Forestry Association, Forest Owners Association and Te Uru Rakau (NZ Forest Service). It’s well worth reading and is an easy read as an introduction to how our commercial forest resources are managed.

https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/55996-2022-NEFD-Report

The report is a database of New Zealand’s production forests which has been published annually since 1985 and gives information on New Zealand’s exotic planted production forest estate (i.e., exotic forest planted with the primary intention of producing wood or wood fibre).

The data collected in the NEFD is used to inform the forestry sector, the wood processing industry, and central and local government policymakers and planners about New Zealand’s planted forest estate. The information also assists with international reporting obligations and is the foundation for creating wood availability forecasts which identify wood processing opportunities in New Zealand.

As of 1 April 2022, the total net stocked area of planted forest was estimated to be 1.76 million hectares (Figure 3, Table 3 – refer table below). Including the area of land currently awaiting replanting after harvesting (50,221 hectares), makes the estimated total forest area 1.81 million hectares.

The 2021 net stocked forest area has been revised to 1.74 million hectares, due to new information including updated returns from respondents and amendments to historical data. The area reported for 2022 was an increase of 17,480 hectares (1 percent) from the 2021 net stocked area of 1.74 million hectares. Year-on-year changes in the net stocked area can be caused by new information,
updated returns from respondents, and changes in land use decisions by forest landowners.

Radiata pine and Douglas fir are the primary exotic forest species. The estimated known area of radiata pine increased by 15,892 hectares between 2021 and 2022. The increase was due to re-mapping of existing forestry (including from changes in ownership), and planting of additional forestry. Douglas-fir area increased by 2,521 hectares between 2021 and 2022.

The report includes area in hectares and by age classes of each species by wood supply region. Each region is further broken down into territorial authority areas. Douglas fir is more of a South Island species with Otago/Southland wood supply region having the highest volume followed by Canterbury.

Radiata pine has always been our main forestry timber tree. It is more of a northern tree with the central North Island wood supply region dominating the numbers followed by Northland. However, a number of other regions are close to that Northland number including southern North Island, East Coast and Otago/Southland.

The report also details area planted in cypress, other softwoods, eucalypts and other hardwoods. It also covers the volume of new plantings, harvesting and various pruning regimes as well as general information on forest ownership. Well worth a read.

2023 Conference 18-20 October Queenstown

We have recently confirmed the 2023 conference location as Queenstown. It will be in the Memorial Hall in Queenstown on the above dates. I would like to acknowledge Queenstown Lakes District Council for their help with a venue. Memorial Hall is close to a range of accommodation and restaurants – all of which are in walking distance, and you also get the stunning iconic Queenstown views.

Check out the conference page on this website. I will keep updating this as we progress with planning, and you will also register here as well.

Memorial Hall – 1 Memorial Street. Very apt background!!!

The conference theme will be around sustaining and building social license for wilding pine management. Queenstown and the work of various groups including the Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group, Arrowtown Choppers and the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group provide some great examples and experiences of advocating for and undertaking wilding work in and around where people live. We also need to grow our support base to increase our lobbying power to keep funding to levels where we can sustain the gains.

If you have ideas for presentations, speakers or would like to do a talk or be a sponsor, please email me: jo@wildingpinenetwork.org.nz.

We will also have updates from the MPI team as well as scientists working in this space and at least 2 field trips. MPI support of the conference also allows us to subsidise travel costs for at least four speakers from iwi and community groups from outside the Central Otago region.

Keep a lookout as I will update this page as we work through planning…

Invasion of New Zealand’s montane forests and sub alpine grasslands by wildings

Seed rain of Douglas fir into the Sexton Valley from the Branch Leatham catchment – Marlborough

Our montane forests and sub alpine environments are spectacular natural places with many unique plant and animal species, but they are also highly vulnerable to modification from faster growing wilding pines and conifers. To illustrate how profound these modifications can be, Richard Bowman, WPN chair has put together the following presentation:

Wilding pines and conifers at high elevations are a serious challenge. They are often in environments that are only accessible by long walks or helicopter. The combination of seeding trees and prevailing winds means that lighter seeds of species such as Pinus contorta and Douglas fir can ‘rain seed’ many kilometres distant from source trees.

Areas previously free of wildings are then rapidly invaded as depicted in the above photo in the Sexton Valley. However, areas with native vegetation are not immune from these tenacious wilding seedlings. Richards images show examples of Douglas fir invasion of mountain beech forest in the Queenstown area. This is occurring in many places around New Zealand.

We cannot afford to lose these unique places and must continue to advocate for sufficient ongoing funding to support and expand the work already being done. It’s election year and the environment is a hot topic – we need to collectively push the wilding management mantra – locally, regionally and nationally.

The funding dilemma

Funding is a constant challenge – the wilding pine space is no stranger to this as we face significant reductions in the 23/24 financial year which may last up to three years.

We cannot afford to stop now – wildings don’t stop growing because funding reduces. We have to lobby for more government funding AND think creatively about how we supplement the funding we will get so as to sustain the significant gains made with control, skilled people and the nationwide collaboration that is at the core of the national wilding programme

Skippers canyon road – an iconic landscape where wilding trees should not be.

Grant Hensman, Chair of the Whakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group recently wrote the piece below for the groups last newsletter. We urge you to read it and spread the word. It would be hard to find a more compelling case in the environmental space than that for continuing the wilding programme.

FUNDING
Grant Hensman, WCG Chairman

Funding, or the lack thereof, is a perennial question for all sorts of voluntary and statutory organisations.

Charitable trust, sports groups, volunteer organisations and government agencies to name but a few. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is our greatest challenge. When we have funds, as we have had through MPI in the last three years, spending them wisely is our duty. Raising further funds to allow the essential work to continue is part of our job.

Government to their credit recently voted $100 million nationally over four years to the wilding pine program. This was front loaded which was the right thing to do and with so many competing voices for funds across many good causes we can all appreciate the decisions that have to be made.

What we don’t understand now is the reduction in funding to a level below even maintenance levels nationwide!  The question is, what is the point in investing money into a program and then reducing the funding to a level that doesn’t allow you to maintain those gains. As a business case to any party, it would not make sense. You simply don’t put money into something in business without the capital to see the investment through to a return.

MPI have updated a Cost Benefit Analysis report produced in 2018 by “Sapere Research Group”, a consultant to the government on the threat that wildings pose to the economy if left unchecked. The figure in 2018 was 38-1.  The new figure, (yet to be released), we understand to be more than compelling and effectively a no brainer.  Below is an excerpt from that 2018 Report.

1. The benefits of control and protection are clear and greatly outweigh the costs.

2. Both intervention options (Minimum Plus and Intermediate) have a demonstrably higher benefit return than costs.

3. Doing nothing, or doing little, generates a large negative impact: a loss of $4.6 billion. Without national intervention, wilding pines will then spread to 7.5 million ha of vulnerable land. This could take as little as 15 to 30 years.

4. The consequences of doing nothing to stop this spread are profound. For example, the 7.5 million hectares of surrendered land by year 50 in the Do-Nothing scenario includes 537,000 hectares of productive land, which is worth $739 million of productive potential. In addition, the surrender affects water with productive potential of $2.9 billion (consisting of $1.95 billion of irrigation impacts and $955 million of hydro impacts). The biodiversity loss will include New Zealand’s most sensitive landscapes and water catchments.

5. Not only will doing nothing fail to achieve the objective of sustainable management, it will result in substantial cost for the country. It can be as little as $5-$10 per hectare to treat sparse infestations however control costs escalate over time. And treating dense infestations will typically cost $2,000 per hectare to aerial boom spray.

6. The CBA demonstrates that the Intermediate option for Phase 2 is sufficient to markedly roll back the area occupied by wilding conifers and ‘turn the tide’. It will achieve a net benefit of $6.1 billion (net present value), a benefit ratio of 38:1.

7. The Minimum Plus scenario will achieve control but will have a smaller net benefit, because it achieves less control and protection in the near term. The net benefit of this option is $2.6 billion (net present value).

Question for you all… Who has heard of a more compelling cost benefit ratio than that in any business case? Not me. The issue is they have not released the new figure despite repeated requests.
One wonders why and suspects politics and setting budgets is at play at the expense of ignoring business sense. This is MY view.

It is not all doom in our district, as due to the ongoing vision of QLDC who instigated this group we have a significant base line of funds which when combined with other support allows the program to continue but not at a winnable level.

If we are to complete this task and be unemployed, which we are happy to achieve, then inflation adjustment to sums set years ago and an increase in regional and national support can’t be substituted.

We will continue both locally and nationally to lobby and promote what is a fundamental threat to our flora and fauna and landscapes, which is exactly what QLDC saw 15 years ago.

You all have an important role in this, which is to spread the word and promote what is happening to your contacts. Remember a single seed, (voices against wildings), can plant a thousand forests.

Grant Hensman 
WCG  Chairman

Expanding our reach

Welcome to 2023. We hope you had some time to refresh and revive over the weird and wonderful weather had by many over Xmas and New Year. The world of wildings has had a good airing so far in 2023. Here’s a few articles that have been published. They show the value of local people getting local issues into local media – these stories spread the word locally but also often get picked up by national media. Please keep up this valuable work.

New Upper Clutha Wilding Tree Group calls for urgent action on controlling wilding conifers

Community group to fight Upper Clutha’s pest pines | Crux – Local News – Queenstown, Wanaka and Cromwell.

One of the biggest problems of wilding tree spread is that wildings increase the intensity of wild
fires. In 2018 there was an out-of-control fire on Mt Maude above Lake Hawea and local residents
had to quickly evacuate their homes.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/108339665/fires-around-south-island-caused-by-fireworks-including-massive-lake-hawea-blaze

Wanaka resident Arne Cleland is clear that action is required urgently. “We have an opportunity to
get on top of this problem, within the Upper Clutha if we take action now. If we allow the existing
trees to start producing seed, the problem will compound dramatically. Any delay will add
significantly to the cost and make control even more challenging.”

Funding cuts: when good pines could go wild

Funding cuts: when good pines could go wild | BusinessDesk

A good little article on Dec 23rd highlighting the potential economic damage of reduced funding.

Cutbacks threaten wilding pines work

Cutbacks threaten wilding pines work | Otago Daily Times Online News (odt.co.nz)

A great local story focused on the impacts of the funding cut on Otago wilding control and got picked up by the NZ Herald’s ‘The Country’ segment.

Wilding trees marching across the land behind Alexandra. Source: Jo Ritchie

Future of wilding control uncertain

Thanks to Federated Farmers ‘FedNews’ for their Jan 31st article on the impacts of reduced funding on the farming sector Future of wilding control uncertain – FedsNews.

Wilding pine spread at Molesworth Station, South Canterbury. Photographed in 2014. Photo: MPI

Thanks also to the Central Otago wilding group for their snappy video about control at Brewery Creek in Cromwell Gorge Brewery Creek update from Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group (COWCCG) – YouTube. This is the prominent rock outcrop you see between the river and the road after you go over the road bridge out of Cromwell heading to Clyde.

We need to continue to get our story into the media and far and wide – we must sustain the gains made by all of the people who have collectively made significant progress with wilding work around the country. We can do this best by expanding our reach and getting the word out that this is a battle we can win.

Good Nature, Bad Nature

The University of Otago is embarking on a really interesting project exploring the current and future management of invasive species, and people’s values associated with contentious species. Their study will help understand how attitudes to invasive species are formed, and consequently how to generate support for their current and future management.

The impact of invasive species in New Zealand

New Zealand faces a huge ecological problem from invasive plants and animals (e.g. possums, stoats, deer, wilding pines) spreading across the country impacting native species and landscapes – a problem expected to grow with climate change. Controlling invasive species, at a cost of NZ$1.4 billion per year, depends upon ongoing public awareness and support. However this is in question due to disagreement over what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ nature.

Some invasive species may be important for local communities e.g. for food, firewood, recreation or tourism, leading those communities to reject control programmes. Also, New Zealand is becoming more culturally diverse, but we know little about how Māori, Pasifika or recent migrants value invasive species, nor the views held by young New Zealanders.

Four case studies exploring tolerance for, and control of, invasive species

This research will investigate the level of tolerance for invasive species and the level of support for their control, within our communities. There are four case-studies – each explore people’s values associated with a contentious invasive species:

  • Wild pigs in Northland
  • Wilding conifers in the Southern Lakes district
  • Himalayan tahr in the Southern Alps
  • Koi carp and rudd in the Waikato region.

For the wilding conifer work the team are especially interested in qualitative research, the group observations and face-to-face interviews, which aid understanding people’s underlying values and attitudes towards invasive plants. 

Their interviews will involve talking to a range of people to get all points of view. This includes local wilding groups but also people who oppose control measures. They will also interview people who work in local/regional councils on wilding pine control as well (District/Regional councils of Queenstown-Lakes, Central Otago, Waitaki, and Mackenzie).

Please support this great piece of work. It’s very worthwhile.

Contact The team – Email invasives@otago.ac.nz and check out the web link with a good video https://www.otago.ac.nz/tourism/research/projects/bad-nature.html

Carbon forestry – what’s it all about?

This is a topic regularly in the media and a land use that is gaining in popularity around New Zealand. Carbon forestry or carbon farming as it is also called is the planting of trees to offset carbon emissions. It is largely done with exotic species and mostly with pine trees or conifers because of the speed at which they grow and sequester carbon. Income is generated by eligible foresters entering their trees into the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) which is our regulatory carbon market.

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the Government’s primary tool for reducing
greenhouse gas emissions and meeting domestic and international climate change commitments.

New Zealand’s Parliament passed The Zero-Carbon Law (diligentias.com)

To really delve into the detail, have a look at https://www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-rural-support/environment-and-natural-resources/emissions-trading-scheme/about-the-emissions-trading-scheme/.
Te Uru Rākau administers the Forestry component of the ETS on behalf of the Environmental
Protection Authority, a core regulatory role mandated by the Climate Change Response Act 2002.
Under the scheme, eligible foresters can earn NZ emission units (NZUs) as their trees grow and
absorb carbon dioxide. This encourages landowners to plant new forests, replant forests to avoid
deforestation liabilities, and undertake forest management practices to sequester more carbon
from their forests https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/45361-Rebuilding-Forestry-ETS-Infrastructure-single-stage-business-case.

Carbon farmers earn carbon credits that can then be sold to emitters in the NZ ETS. This is because forests can earn New Zealand emission Units (NZUs) as trees grow and absorb carbon dioxide. The price that NZUs go for in the NZ ETS can fluctuate over time, depending on what the market value is. The market value can be affected by lots of factors such as regulatory certainty, price limits, or the number of accessible units. An emissions unit represents one metric ton of carbon dioxide, or the carbon dioxide equivalent of any other greenhouse gas. 

Restoring Resilient Tropical Forests (caryinstitute.org)

This means that both short- and long-lived greenhouses gases emissions reductions are interchangeable. Currently, the only eligible emissions unit in the NZ ETS is the New Zealand Unit (NZU).

Some foresters in NZ are required to participate in the NZ ETS while others can voluntarily choose to enter the scheme. Eligible foresters who enter voluntary want to earn money by selling NZUs into the carbon market (the NZ ETS) but it’s a market that is very sensitive to changes in government decisions such as whether to implement recommendations from the Climate Change Commission. Check out https://businessdesk.co.nz/article/climate-change/carbon-prices-plunge-on-govt-decision which explains the $13 drop from $86/ton to $75 almost overnight. Business Desk is a great media resource to subscribe too.

There are two main ways that a forester can earn an income from carbon forestry.  The first way is to ‘play the market.’ This applies the principle of buying (or gaining) units at a low price and selling them at a higher price. Another way is for foresters to sell their ‘lower risk’, or ‘enduring’ carbon units generated from planting new forests. These units are lower risk because unlike other units’ foresters who voluntarily participate receive, they are not required to surrender them to the Crown at harvest. These rules governing how carbon credits from forest growth and decay is accumulated and then surrendered to the Crown may change. The MPI websites listed above are the best place for additional information.

I am sure we are all agreed we need to do all we can to reduce carbon omissions and offset them, but we also need to ensure that the measures we use to offset them are effectively regulated and managed so that their potential impacts are proactively managed.

There have been a number of good media stories on this in recent months. I urge you to read and view them and form your own opinion. They include the following:

http://Watch Sunday PLANTING PARADISE | TVNZ+ Interviews with landowners, foresters and others around the growing carbon forestry industry.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/130756882/sam-neill-and-grahame-sydney-oppose-60000-pine-tree-plantation-on-exceptional-landscape An article on a proposal to plant an area for carbon forestry in central Otago.

https://www.interest.co.nz/rural-news/117838/rob-morrison-points-out-allowing-offsets-within-ets-woefully-dodgy-giving-free Rob Morrison chair of Pure Advantage compares the sustainability of carbon offsetting using exotic with native species (this link includes a 2-part video) and some great photos like the one above.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/opinion/130300840/the-political-hoodwinking-over-carbon-forestry A view from Northland from Penetaui Kleskovich the operations manager for the commercial activities of Tai Tokerau iwi Te Aupouri about the importance of proactive and pragmatic management and working collaboratively together in this space.

WPN is about clearing wilding pines, many of the places we do this is due to previous tree planting policies. Communities and landowners have been working hard on this (putting in a lot of money and working methodically and over long periods of time).

We don’t want these mistakes repeated with current tree planting policies creating even more wilding pine spread. We are not opposed to carbon forestry – we just want to see it regulated and managed in such a way that it does not exacerbate the problem we are already challenged to deal with. There is presently little regulation of carbon forestry. This needs to change and we need to work together to ensure it does.

Wilding conifers on the ground will not wait for funding to catch up

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report in October 2022 – entitled Environmental reporting, research and investment – Do we know if we’re making a difference? It’s a big read but pages 29-31 are worth checking out.

https://pce.parliament.nz/media/0qger2rr/environmental-reporting-research-and-investment-do-we-know-if-were-making-a-difference.pdf

Wilding conifers as used as one of two examples to evidence the gaps between evidence and action (the other species used was alligator weed). The report acknowledges the seriousness of the issue: “Farmers were seeing productive land invaded, tourism operators were complaining that iconic landscapes and views were disappearing, and settlements began to be threatened by the risk of forest fires”. It also acknowledges the national programme a d the collective partnership that has resulted in significant investment and work being undertaken.

However more importantly, it warns that as long as non-sterile trees are being planted “there will be an ongoing battle to control wilding conifers. Given the scale of the problem, funding will need to continue
into the long term if the objective of handing land back to regional councils and landowners to
manage is to be safely achieved. Crown funding from Budget 2020 will drop significantly in 2024,
but wilding conifers on the ground will not wait for the funding to catch up
‘.

If further states that ” Without adequate ongoing spending, there is a genuine risk that the gains, and funding, will be wasted as the wildling conifers will simply reinvade. The National Wilding Conifer Control
Programme has forecast that over $200 million is required out to 2031 to control 95% of known
infestations. Separate recent modelling has estimated that at least $400 million will be needed to
remove all known wilding conifer infestations if action is taken now and costs are not deferred into
the future. Any delays will see costs increase”.

It points to the experience many people have had of what will happen if we delay action and uses photos from the Clarence River (below) taken three years apart to evidence the speed at which wilding conifers can spread and grow.

These are simple and compelling words that out politicians and decision makers need to carefully consider. Do they really think it’s worth losing the considerable sunk investment to date as well as the cumulative losses that will occur as a result of reduced funding for the relentless march of wildings through our natural and productive landscapes and what about the considerable skill and experience of contractors, volunteers and landowners as well as agency personnel – employment in this space is both social and environmental investment in the present and reduced control investment in the future if we can arrest the spread in time.

Wilding conifers on the ground will not wait for the funding to catch up if the reduction planned for 2023 is not addressed.

The fragility of our alpine ecosystems and hill tops

A Recent visit to Southland reminded me about the beauty and vulnerability of our alpine ecosystems which are dominated by small natives -plants and animals especially skinks.

Wilding pines and conifers decimate and completely obscure these communities. Low light under dense kanuka is no deterrent. Douglas fir wildings are relentless and tenacious as can be seen in the photo below from the Eyre Mountains below West Dome.

Douglas fir seedlings amongst kanuka – West Dome Source: Jo Ritchie

Wilding seedlings rapidly outcompete these communities in which our native plants grow a lot slower and cannot cover the ground as quickly as an invading army of green wildings. Our native ground covers and plants in these environments include lichens and low growing plants that just can’t match the wildings

A mass of Douglas Fir invaders amongst native shrubs and lichens West Dome Source: Jo Ritchie

The same scenario plays out on the summit of Mid Dome where the landscape feels like a giant has had a tantrum with a giant hammer with its giant boulders and rock fields and steeply incised gullies. But amongst this seemingly sterile landscape are small flowering gems like the ones below.

Spring flowers Mid Dome summit Source: Jo Ritchie
Native daisy field – Mid Dome Summit Source: Jo Ritchie

There are also patches of what was once fields of hardy native plants before the invaders took hold. They are stunning with their leathery sculptural leaves hardened against the wind, snow and ice that formed these landscapes. They are also proof of the hard work done by the Mid Dome Trust and their tenacious contractors, landowners and volunteers pushing back that relentless march of wilding trees which grow from the valley floors to the ridge tops.

Tussock vegetation – Mid Dome Summit Source Jo Ritchie

Bluff Hill/Motupohue is a fantastic example of what happens when a community and an organised pragmatic Trust get together to make a difference. The Bluff Hill/Motupohue Environment Trust (BHMET) is one such example and mirrors the dedication of many groups involved in conservation restoration around Aotearoa.

Bluff Hill is a visual celebration of the resilience and recovery that occurs in our native ecosystems when we give them a helping hand. BHMET felled many large pine trees on Motupohue which is a wind-swept exposed hill overlooking Foveaux Strait. Nature rewarded them with the regeneration of many native species whose seedlings are initially protected by the fallen logs and limbs as seen below.

As the hardier natives grow like houpara (coastal five finger) and coprosma species, the combined shelter provided by these species and the pine debris partner with the recovering soil quality to allow more wind sensitive species such as poroporo (purple flowers), makomako (wineberry) to push their seedlings up along with ferns, orchids and lichens.

Olearia (Akepiro) a coastal tree daisy was flowering when I visited, along with the purple flowers of poroporo (see above). It’s a stunning plant with its shiny green tough salt adapted leaves with furry silver undersides and white flowers with yellow centers but it’s outclassed by the rich pink and crimson bell flowers of the makomako.

Motupohue is testament to the difference determined people can make. The removal of pines along with animal and pest control has made a huge difference to the hill which is going from strength to strength. There are few remnants of coastal Podocarp/Kamahi/Rata Forest left on the mainland and few as accessible and popular as Bluff Hill. Bluff Hill is one of the few populated places where the forest meets the sea providing food and shelter to marine and land animals. Bluff Hill is home to declining, at-risk, nationally vulnerable and endangered bird species: black backed gull, little blue and yellow penguins, Stewart Island shag, mainland sooty shearwater, red-crowned parakeet, South Island rifleman, fernbird, kaka and NZ pigeon.

If we are to repeat this story across all our alpine environments and hills where wiling pines and conifers are we must sustain the gains and not accept the reduction in funding come in 2023. Our argument is compelling and winnable, and the results are worth fighting for and celebrating.

Sustaining the Gains in the media

As you know we are building our profile in the media with our campaign to retain sufficient funding for the national programme. It is critical that this resourcing is maintained at a level which not only protects the significant investments that have been made to date but also allows the programme to be taken to a satisfactory conclusion over the next decade. The 2023 reduction to $10 million annually won’t cut it literally!

I’d like to acknowledge our media team Rosie Graystone and Lauren Prebble but also the many people in groups around the country who are writing to government Ministers and local MP’s and also enlisting help from local media to get the message across.

In the last week we have had two great media accomplishments. The first is a feature article in Farm Trader which includes an interview with Peter Hore who owns Glenshee Station in Central Otago. Peter is an experienced wilding campaigner who talks about the impact of wildings on his farm productivity as well as conservation values. https://www.farmtrader.co.nz/features/2211/the-challenge-of-wilding-pines-feature.

March 2022 Glenshee Station and sprouted wilding pines encroaching onto the tussock. Source: Farm Trader

The second media accomplishment is from the Central Otago Wilding Group who have completed a video in partnership with Otago Regional Council and the Department of Conservation. It features interviews with Phil Murray, a project manager with the Group and Sir Graham Sydney whose paintings bring the iconic Central Otago landscapes into our homes. It’s a pragmatic call to action and shows with several before and after images what happens when wildings are left unchecked. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ddu8j2wyn43pl7s/COWCCG%20%28Final%20v3%29%20FR.mp4?dl=0

Wilding spread in the hills behind Alexandra Source: Jo Ritchie

The tussock fields, glacier hewn landscapes of Central are much loved by its inhabitants and international visitors. Wildings left unchecked will rapidly change these landscapes and landscapes in many other places around New Zealand as we all know and experience.

In addition to our Facebook page, www.facebook.comWildingPineNetwork we now also have an Instagram page https://instagram.com/wpn_ngo. We will add content soon and we update our Facebook page weekly. Please connect in and send the links out to all your contacts. Let us know if you have material, we can use on these social media outlets.

Carbon Stink

Finally, there was also a very good article in the Listener recently. Tim Flannery a renowned environmental scientist and campaigner was interviewed by Jane Clifton on the rush to convert farmland to carbon forestry and the environmental and economic risks that may result. It’s a very good read.

THANK YOU to everyone who is helping us to generate more media interest through your willingness to contribute information, and your time to this campaign. Keep up the good work.

Hybrid tree wrongly sold as sterile

A recent article in Friday Offcuts, the weekly electronic newsletter for Australasian Forest products companies gives a warning about marketing a product based on something it is not. Pinus radiata x attenuata hybrid has been labelled sterile and unable to spread without any evidence to support the claim. The article is a summary of a more extensive one on Newsroom https://www.newsroom.co.nz/pine-trees-wrongly-sold-as-sterile. It’s a good, short read.

Pinus attenuata seedlings

Stocks are being snapped up in NZ due to the hybrids ability to thrive in the harsh conditions of the South Island high country. It is popular with farmers for shelter belts due to its hardiness and snow resistance. It is believed to have a lower spreading risk than many commercial forestry trees such as Douglas Fir and Pinus radiata, but is not sterile, according to government scientists and seed suppliers.

It is unclear how the incorrect ‘sterile’ labelling had occurred… Proseed a tree seed supplier of the hybrid has confirmed that it is not sterile and that just like radiata pines, it produces serotinous cones that require high temperatures to open. The hybrid is classed in the same category as radiata pine when wilding spread risks are assessed. Proseed had not seen any spread so far, however, at high country planting sites.

Field trials of the Pinus radiata x P. attenuata hybrids were established by Scion and Proseed, in the late 1990s. These showed it to be tolerant of cold and dry conditions and to have good resistance to snow, according to a Scion publication. No reference is made in Scion’s reports to the tree being sterile or to any detailed assessment of its potential to spread.

There is general agreement with the statement from Proseed’s General Manager Shaf van Ballekom that “sterile trees would be a great solution to help solve issues of wilding pine, but we understand the only possible avenue to undertake this for our current suite of plantation species would be through genetic modification technology. This is currently prohibited in New Zealand.”

However, we need to be sure that trees are what they say they are before they are widely planted. The Newsroom report quotes Phil Murray from the Central Otago Wilding Group – “We are marching flat out into forestry willy-nilly. We are expecting a vast improvement with the attenuata hybrid, but we don’t know yet. They take 10 to 12 years before they start coning so you don’t know until after 10 or 12 years whether they will spread. We can’t get it wrong again.

True Story: Wilding pines strangle Kiwi landscapes, but a resistance fights back

Check out a great story featuring Steve Palmer from ECAN on Episode 2 on Stuff’s new podcast True Story delves into a curious tale of evil pine trees, shy wallabies, and more. It’s entertaining, really well done and thought provoking. Thanks Steve as well as Adam Dudding and Eugene Bingham

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/300740222/true-story-wilding-pines-strangle-kiwi-landscapes-but-a-resistance-fights-back

Wilding pines are running rampant in the Mackenzie Country, and racing towards the snowline. Adam Dudding/STUFF

Funding opportunities open… get in quick!

Two funds are now open for applications. We encourage you to get cracking with applications. If you need help, please let Jo know jo@wildingpinenetwork.org.nz – part of WPN’s job is to help with these sorts of things and funding applications can be challenging.

A few tips to help with preparing an application…

  1. Make sure you read all the application criteria thoroughly.

2. Ask for help from the fund managers – they’re always really helpful.

3. Keep it simple, informative and concise – those assessing applications often have heaps of them to read and will be attracted to short, punchy, relevant ones with good graphics, a history of work (or if a new project a really sound idea that has been well thought out) and good partnerships and accurate costings

4. Get support letters from your community and send with your application. these are community funds and so partnerships matter. WPN will send a letter – just let Jo know.

5. Get a person who knows your project well and someone who doesn’t know it to review your application before you send it so they can help with changes that may need to be made.

6. Get your application in on time and ideally before the due date. Don’t leave it till the last minute. Rush jobs reduce your chance of success and stress you out!

DOC COMMUNITY FUND

The DOC Community Fund supports community-led conservation projects on public and private land. There is $7.2 million available in the 2022/23 funding round for threatened species and ecosystems projects. To apply for this fund, you must meet the eligibility criteria listed below. If you are eligible, read the guide and complete the application form.

Douglas fir encircling a native enclave of hebes and Dracophyllum – Branch Leatham catchment – Marlborough

You can apply to this funding stream if the project:

Eligibility criteria

  • reduces the extinction risk of priority threatened species (limited to those defined as Nationally Critical, Nationally Endangered or Nationally Vulnerable species at their priority management sites) or protects and enhances priority ecosystems (guided by the Top 850 Ecosystem Management Units, Ngā Awa sites, Marine Reserves and Rare and Threatened Ecosystem types).
  • is community-led. (For example, led by whānau, hapū, iwi, community conservation groups, not-for-profit organisations or umbrella groups. Government departments and local authorities cannot apply.)
  • seeks funding for up to 3 years
  • https://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/funding/doc-community-fund/funding-for-threatened-species-and-ecosystems/

Copy the link above into your search engine for more information including assessment criteria and how to email the DOC CF team for advice. Applications close 1pm on 31st January 2023 and you will be advised on the outcome of your application in April 2023.

LOTTERIES ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE FUND

Lottery Environment and Heritage grants are available for projects that will help protect, conserve or care for our natural, cultural and physical heritage, or allow us to better understand and access these resources.

There are 3 categories natural, physical and cultural heritage. Natural heritage is probably the most relevant for wilding projects. Projects would need to show they:

  • protect and restore habitats and ecosystems for native plants or animals 
  • protect and conserve native plants or animals that are rare, in danger or at risk in their habitats 
  • improve public access and information about native plants and animals. 
Wilding pines Mount Tarawera

However, if your project protects significant heritage sites do consider the other categories. For more information on how to apply and what you need to include, copy the link below into your search engine:

https://www.communitymatters.govt.nz/lottery-environment-and-heritage

The fund opens on 4th January 2023 and closes on 1 March 2023. You will be advised on the outcome of your application by 31 May 2023.

The power of people propagating plants….

I recently had the pleasure of going to a propagation workshop held by Wilding Free MacKenzie. Propagation of native species that is – not those marching green trees we saw extending right up to the tops of the hills behind the little treasure that is Menards Ecosanctuary on Manuka Terrace. No snow on those hills – just a marching line of green trees that need to be down and brown!

Marching wildings heading for the hills taken from Manuka Terrace, Twizel, October 2022

Around a dozen people attended and enjoyed an interactive and really interesting session with Jo Wakelin who has huge experience with propagating native trees in the challenging environments you mainlanders live and work in. It was great to see people so interested and be able to learn some basic propagation biology, prepare and sow a range of different seed types and prick out trays of seedlings to then take home.

I know what it takes to go from seed collection to planting having learned on Tiritiri Matangi island when it was being revegetated in the late ’80-early 90’s when I was a relieving ranger for DOC but what it takes in the South Island with different and more challenging growing conditions takes it to a whole new level.

Jason Menard marching the workshop crew through Menards Ecosanctuary

Thanks to all who attended. It was a pleasure meeting you all and seeing firsthand the care, interest and commitment to getting more native plants into gardens, local reserves, areas where wilding control has been undertaken and many other places. Much conversation was had about the diversity of native plants in the MacKenzie and the challenging growing conditions in Twizel and that’s not including the rabbits… It’s the collective efforts of these people that make a huge difference to the establishment of corridors for our native species and covering the bare ground left by dead wildings.

Special thanks to Haeleigh Turner from Wilding Free MacKenzie, Jo Wakelin and Jason Menard from Menard Ecosanctuary. Kia kaha to you all.

Winning Wilders

Great excitement at the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards last night at Auckland Museum. We are thrilled to announce that our two nominations succeeded in their categories. Congratulations to the Whakatipu Wilding Control Group who won the community award in recognition of their role as biosecurity leaders in their community. They have established and maintain longstanding partnerships to protect Queenstown’s iconic landscapes from wildings.

The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme won the government project category for the coordinated partnership that has led to much of the action on the ground throughout New Zealand. We would also like to acknowledge the Ruawahia 2B Trust who were independently nominated for their work protecting one of North Island’s most iconic maunga – Mt Tarawera from the ravages of wilding trees.

The two wins are well-deserved, not just for these two projects, but for all those people in communities, agencies and crews on the ground around the country all working to pushing back and prevent the spread of wilding pines.

Jo Ritchie WPN Coordinator with Grant Hensman Chair Whakatipu Wilding Control Group

There are hundreds of paid workers and contractors doing the hard physical work, and then hundreds more who volunteer for community-based and Iwi-led projects. There is a lot of energy from people wanting to protect the country from disappearing under a dark blanket of self-seeded trees, that – in contrast to well-managed, carefully planted forestry – bring no benefits to the landscapes they are spreading into.

Sherman Smith Manager Pest Management Programmes (Wilding Conifers) & Randall Milne Senior Adviser Operations, both from Biosecurity New Zealand

This work is about saving the best of New Zealand from a wilding threat that is devastating our unique lands and biodiversity. We must sustain the gains and keep up the current momentum. If we do, we could actually have wilding-free landscapes – that will be an even bigger celebration.

What the future could look like…………

John Oswald, Ket Bradshaw and Hayley McCairns from the South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust on the aptly named Blowhard Road with the Branch Leatham catchment behind. Photo: Jo Ritchie

Richard Bowman WPN Chair and our coordinator presented to the NETS (national biosecurity) conference in Christchurch in August 2022.

The presentation was on the role of advocacy in a landscape scale biosecurity response but although that was a key focus of our talk neither of us are very good at staying on subject and we strayed into funding. I thought I would share a potential scenario from Richard if we cannot sustain national funding at least to current levels…

The point being made here is that we have let the tiger escape before. Funding for the Tb programme was reduced part way through the programme and it cost significantly more to catch that tiger again when funding at required levels was reinstated.

Our end message for the NETS talk was that we must have a truly integrated animal AND PLANT pest management approach if we are to ever really bring back the natural symphony that is the abundance of New Zealand’s unique biodiversity in a pest free landscape.

We need to all work together as hard and smart as possible to ensure this does not happen to the wilding programme. Get in behind the SUSTANING THE GAINS ADVOCACY PROGRAMME.

Wildings in the Mackenzie – lend a helping hand

Take the time to listen to this interview with Ross Ivey, Chair of the McKenzie Wilding Trust and Rachel Smalley from Today FM. Dated 13/10/22 it was done to advertise upcoming volunteer days. In the space of a few minutes Ross deftly articulates the threats wildings pose to our natural environments and water/hydro and the difference that volunteer days can make.

On the Land: Twizel working bee to tackle wilding pines – First Light with Rachel Smalley – Omny.fm

Wildings at Pukaki ©: Dave Hansford 

The MacKenzie Wilding Trust has recorded 247 volunteer hours over 155 hectares since March 2021. Volunteer days are a primary advocacy tool for their wilding work. They select different locations each time as an opportunity to talk about the different environmental, social and recreational assets wildings impact so people can see firsthand and make a difference.

They have worked in wetlands, tussock drylands, braided riverbeds, walking/biking trails, an organic farm, and have spoken about topics including seed source trees, erosion control and shelterbelt plantings, grazing, community fire hazard, control with and without pasting the stumps, impacts on ecosystems and threatened species. 

The most damaging species they are trying to control is Pinus contorta, but they are also controlling Corsican, Ponderosa, Scots Pine, Douglas fir, Larch and in some spots Mugo. 

Check out https://www.wildingpines.nz/assets/Documents/Wilding-Conifer-QUICK-ID-GUIDE.pdf to get your head around the different species. Challenge yourself when out and about with identifying which ones you see and if you’re really keen how many…

What can you do to help?

  1. Join Wilding Free MacKenzie and support their work. www.mackenziewildingtrust.org. If you’re a local or a visitor with a spare day – learn about wildings by attending a volunteer day

2. Support the Wilding Pine Network Sustaining the Gains campaign so that Wilding Free MacKenzie can continue its work.www.wildingpinenetwork.org.nz/sustaining-the-gains/

Even at the current level of funding there is not enough resource to protect all of the fragile intermontane basin ecosystems (nationally rare) of the Mackenzie and Upper Waitaki Basins. These ecosystems consist of mountain lands, shrublands and tussock grasslands above 900m and glacial outwash surfaces, moraines, braided rivers, river margins and wetlands in the lower areas. The intermontane Basins are unique in New Zealand and home to many endemic plants and animals, many of which are already rare. If wilding pine control is under-resourced, even for just a year or two, the damage to our intermontane basin ecosystems would be devastating, and in many instances irreversible.

Source: www.mackenziewildingtrust.org

Water table levels would drop meaning there would be less water available for our rivers, lakes, tarns (especially ephemeral tarns) and wells. There would be less water available for irrigation, and increased maintenance control costs on production land in the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley. This could also result in a reduction in capacity for hydro electricity production by Genesis Energy and Meridian Energy in the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley.  

Community fire danger risk would increase – Pine trees contain flammable resins and form a dense ladder of branches and needles (fuel) making them extremely flammable and contributing to large flame lengths and extreme fire intensity in the event of wildfire. This is compounded by climate change as areas like the Mackenzie Basin continue to become hotter and drier over time, reducing the moisture content in fuels and making them even more flammable. As climatic conditions intensify and the density and maturity of wilding pine infestations increases in rural residential areas, the threat to houses, sheds, livestock and human life increases significantly. Examples of local wildfire in wilding pines include the Ohau Village and Pukaki fires of 2020. 

Thanks to Haeleigh Turner – Community Coordinator for MacKenzie Wilding Trust for this information.

October 2022 Newsletter is finally out

https://mailchi.mp/331486178670/autumn-newsletter-from-the-wilding-pine-network-9089417

In this newsletter – information on our advocacy programme ” Sustaining the Gains” to address the 2023 funding reduction and how you can help, a new member on our management committee, the recently released control guidelines, links to conference PowerPoints, finalists in the NZ Biosecurity Awards, information on the review of the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry…

My apologies in the haste to get this out I noticed I did not include that we have had a change on our management committee as our North Island Regional Council representative.

Craig Davey from Horizons Regional Council a long-time wilding manager amongst other things biosecurity has stood down and is replaced by Sam Stephens from Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

A selection of wilding challenges in the Bay of Plenty Region (taken from Sam Stephens presentation at 2022 WPN Conference.

Sam is currently a Biosecurity Officer at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, based in Whakatane and has been in that role for 6 years. He is currently the Management Unit Manager for the Rangitâiki MU (East of Taupo) and is an Operational Manager for the private land in that MU in the BOP region. Welcome Sam.

Sam says his main takeaways to work on are:

– Improving our engagement with contractors:

                – We hold contractors to a high standard, yet don’t always give them the feedback they are seeking. They want to be audited, not just for H&S but also their performance so they can continually improve.

                – Any funding solutions/models need to be smoothed over time so we can give the contractors, that have lifted their game to the programmes high spec, more certainty.

– I also think we need to do some thinking around how we engage with Iwi meaningfully to co-manage future priorities. Especially with the new Iwi consultation aspect of the NWCCP funding agreement variations that have just come out. This is bound to involve a desire for Iwi to deliver some of the work, so we need to be ready to support them in this.

Please take the time to read the newsletter. If there are topics, you would like covered in the next one (Nov) please let me know. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to be please also let me know or if you wish to be removed.

WPN is now on Facebook

We have broken new ground and entered a new age! Thanks to Lauren Prebble our social media specialist we have established a social media profile.

www.facebook.com/WildingPineNetwork

Social media helps amplify advocacy efforts by potentially reaching more people, in more places, faster than ever before. It’s a pretty useful tool and we are going to use it to its full effect. Please tag our page and do what you need to do to follow us.

Contact Lauren laurenprebble@hotmail.com if you have information or images or ideas we can use.

Control progress 2016-2022

Effective wilding control is all about keeping the pressure on -catching trees when they are small and before they get a chance to cone and send their winged progeny out to create more problems in our native forests and tussock lands, iconic landscapes and on our farmland.

Collectively the wilding community have made huge strides into effective control in many areas across Aotearoa. Community partnership projects have flourished and as well as undertaking work on the ground are invaluable advocates for proactive wilding control.

Image courtesy of Tanira Raureti – Ruawahia 2B Trust from a presentation to the 2022 Wilding Pine Conference on work the Trust is undertaking on Mt Tarawera in the central North Island supported by the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme and Bay of Plenty Regional Council

They include projects undertaken by groups as well as individual landowner initiatives and often involve training local people both as volunteers and contractors and have resulted in a number of new businesses specialising in wilding management that can then do other plant and animal pest contracts – a great form of sustainable local employment.

The map below shows progress since the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme started in 2016. Although we should be encouraged with the extent of areas where work has been undertaken, we still have a long way to go.

The long way to go is evidenced by only 1 green area (in the South Island) where enough work has been done to transition to local management. Many other areas although started still have significant seed sources remaining. There are many other areas where work has yet to start. It is imperative we sustain the gains.

The key messages here are:

  1. We know how to do this work effectively. We have learned and refined this through adaptive management and learning by doing supported by solid research and innovation. We have the work force and the support in communities across Aotearoa and across all land tenures and landscape types.

2. Sustained ongoing funding is critical to the long-term success of this programme. It must be at levels where this resourcing is maintained at a level which not only protects the significant investments that have been made to date but also allows the programme to be taken to a satisfactory conclusion over the next decade.

The aptly named Mt Misery in the Branch Leatham catchment (Marlborough) and its dense wilding infestation. Courtesy of John Oswald.

3. We need to keep moving forward – going backwards means more Branch Leatham’s – who wants that? Get in behind our Sustaining the Gains advocacy campaign to address the 2023 National Programme funding reduction so we can keep the momentum going to not only continue the work in existing management units but start funding new ones such as the Branch Leatham.

SUSTAINING THE GAINS – Wilding Pine Network NZ

Tom Scott’s 2001 cartoon illustrates the potential of wilding trees left unmanaged. If you seek to see many of our iconic landscapes, it will be like a game of hide and seek to find them…

SUSTAINING THE GAINS

An advocacy campaign to address the 2023 national programme funding reduction.

The significant gains made by the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme is at risk due to a reduction of funding to the programme from the 2023 financial year onwards.

The control programme provides significant and ongoing benefits to New Zealand’s iconic landscapes, cultural heritage, and native biodiversity values, both terrestrial and freshwater. These benefits also extend to our primary industries particularly agriculture and horticulture as well as to hydro power generation and tourism. The programme is an extraordinary achievement with a diverse community of dedicated, determined and hardworking people nationwide.

Example of successful wilding conifer control between 2012 and 2018 in the Craigieburn area of Canterbury carried out under the guidance of the Waimakariri Ecological and Landscape Restoration Alliance (WELRA) Photos courtesy of Nick Ledgard.

At the levels of national funding proposed from 2023 (around $10 million) onwards (less than ½ of the current annual budget) it will not be possible to provide the necessary maintenance control or to expand into areas of wilding infested land outside of the current programme.

It will result in a significant loss of momentum in the national programme and will force reductions in the highly effective and skilled contractor, community and volunteer workforce. It will also erode the dynamic partnership with community, iwi, local, regional, and national government, landowners, and land managers that is at the heart of the current success of the national wilding programme.

At the recent national Wilding Pine Conference held in Blenheim it was clear that a number of the wilding projects, which have been underway for over a decade, are starting to achieve successful ‘wilding free’ outcomes. (A graphic example from Canterbury is shown above and evidences the power of the community). However, while spectacular progress is being made with initial control across New Zealand this work will require at least two rounds of maintenance around 3-5 years apart to remove regeneration and exhaust the seed bank as well as to neutralise other seed nearby sources.  

If existing levels of investment in the national programme to allow it to reach completion over the next decade are not maintained – wilding spread will continue. We will not sustain the gains made and New Zealand will run the risk of making a very costly biosecurity mistake which will require billions of dollars to remedy in future and be catastrophic to tourism, regional employment, and New Zealand’s biodiversity.

“Our highly memorable landscapes are admired by countless Kiwis and visitors and impact powerfully on both imagination and memory. The fast spread of wilding pines is an immediate and dangerous threat to these beloved landscapes. In ten years any one wilding tree can become one hundred, then one thousand. We have to do all we can to prevent this evergreen blanket turning our extraordinary landscapes from “A World of Difference” to a look shared by too many other regions”.  
Sir Grahame Sydney – National Artist.

We need to act NOW…

Download the Wilding Pine Information Pack and share it with your community.

If the wilding issue is new to you and you want to get involved connect up with one of the community groups (they are always keen for more helping hands and are full of knowledge) on our web page or contact us to start a new group. The more people who get in behind the greater the voice and the chance to influence the funding challenge.

If you are already involved, please use your knowledge and experience, continue promoting the wilding challenge in your area and the implications of a significant funding cut. Get into the media – mainstream the funding reduction and its significant implications, write to government Ministers about the importance of sustaining the gains in your area and nationally.

Ask why this funding is being cut, how will we protect our iconic landscapes, unique biodiversity, and cultural heritage in places where wildings exist unmanaged or with reduced management? How will benefits to our primary income earners in agriculture, horticulture, hydro power generation and tourism be protected with a reduction of less than half the current annual funding?

This is a problem we know how to solve. We have proven that on the ground. We have the people, the experience – we just need to retain the funding at least at current levels.

Volunteers tackling a rogue wilding conifer

Get in behind our campaign and get the message out there – we can’t let this wicked problem get away on us.

Tag our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WildingPineNetwork

The Government needs to continue to fund the national programme to a level which not only protects the significant investments that have been made to date but also allows the programme to be taken to a satisfactory conclusion over the next decade.

In summary the key messages to get out as widely as possible and firmly in the minds of the political decision makers are:

  1. Unmanaged wildings cause significant threats to Aotearoa’s unique biodiversity and ecosystems.
  2. The negative impacts of wildings extend to waterways, people, property, and farmland.
  3. Water yield reductions in wilding infested catchments are significant and impact on hydroelectric generation, agricultural and horticultural production
  4. Wildings can increase the intensity and impacts of wildfires.  Fire prevention alone could cost at least $654 million over 50 years.
  5. The risks and negative impacts of wilding pines outweigh the benefit of carbon dioxide they can absorb. They can no longer be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme to generate carbon credits.
  6. A funding reduction will not sustain the gains and will be a significant backward step. Without sustained funding at least at existing levels we risk losing the power that fuels the wilding control engine – a highly skilled workforce including contractors, staff, and volunteers.
  7. Any past progress and or future ability to control wildings is in jeopardy due to the possibility of reduced and inadequate funding. New Zealand will run the risk of making a very costly and biosecurity mistake which will require billions of dollars to remedy in future and be catastrophic to tourism, regional employment, and New Zealand’s biodiversity.

Control Guidelines now available

                                      12308A A5 Booklet Wilding Pine Aug 2022 WEB

These Guidelines were originally written in 2009 by Nick Ledgard, a retired forester and now adviser to the Wilding Pine Network and the Waimakariri Ecological Landscape and Restoration Alliance and they were published by the New Zealand Forest Research Institute/Scion.

The Wilding Pine Network acknowledges the Department of Conservation Community Fund which provided the funding to update these guidelines and incorporate the latest best practice.

The purpose of these 2022 Guidelines is to assist landowners, community groups, and anyone keen to get involved in wilding control with choosing the right control method.

These Guidelines do not replace the Good Practice Guides published by the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme which can be found on www.wildingpines.nz/good-practice-guides/. These Guides provide detailed guidance for large scale control methods.

The WPN guidelines compliment the Good Practice Guides by providing individuals and groups undertaking control outside the oversight of the National Programme with a summary of control methods. The Good Practice Guides contain instructions to perform the control method or methods once chosen.

We hope the 2022 Guidelines help you in your work. If you are old school and like to read an actual and not a virtual copy or you would just like some to circulate, please let me know. jo@wildingpinenetwork.org.nz

12308A A5 Booklet Wilding Pine Aug 2022 WEBThese Guidelines were originally written in 2009 by Nick Ledgard, a retired forester and now adviser to the Wilding Pine Network and the Waimakariri Ecological Landscape and Restoration Alliance and they were published by the New Zealand Forest Research Institute/Scion.

The Wilding Pine Network acknowledges the Department of Conservation Community Fund which provided the funding to update these guidelines and incorporate the latest best practice.

The purpose of these 2022 Guidelines is to assist landowners, community groups, and anyone keen to get involved in wilding control with choosing the right control method.

 

These Guidelines do not replace the Good Practice Guides published by the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme which can be found on www.wildingpines.nz/good-practice-guides/. These Guides provide detailed guidance for large scale control methods.

The WPN guidelines compliment the Good Practice Guides by providing individuals and groups undertaking control outside the oversight of the National Programme with a summary of control methods. The Good Practice Guides contain instructions to perform the control method or methods once chosen.

We hope the 2022 Guidelines help you in your work. If you are old school and like to read an actual and not a virtual copy or you would just like some to circulate, please let me know. jo@wildingpinenetwork.org.nz

WPN releases new policy report

This report examines the gaps and limitations in policy relating to wilding conifer management.

Although much progress has been made in recent years to control the spread of wilding conifers, there are still gaps and limitations in the current policy and regulatory frameworks which relate to wilding conifer management. The Wilding Pine Network (WPN) is concerned that these gaps and limitations may allow ongoing and future wilding conifer spread, in spite of recent control progress. The WPN is particularly concerned that the significant investment already made in wilding conifer control will not be able to be protected. Additionally, new areas of wilding conifer spread might not be prevented or effectively mitigated by the current policy settings.

The WPN commissioned this report to identify the gaps and limitations in the policy and legislative framework and recommend potential options to address these issues.

Wildings spreading from a plantation

The WPN is deliberating on the recommendations in this report. We acknowledge that conifers can be both a resource and a pest, and we need to take a balanced and holistic approach to policy and legislative changes. Additionally, education and awareness are a critical component of behaviour change, alongside potential policy and regulatory changes.

We are considering all of the recommendations in this report, and in particular the promotion of a National Pest Management Plan for wilding conifers. We also see the need to amend the Wilding Tree Risk Calculator used in the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to make it a more transparent and reliable tool. Through this report, we have also identified that we need a better understanding of existing seed sources and their spread risk. Therefore, we will explore mapping high-risk areas of wilding conifer spread to better understand and proactively manage wilding conifer spread risks

It is our hope that in sharing this report, we will help elucidate the gaps and limitations in current policy and legislation, and we will all work together towards equitable changes to prevent and mitigate future wilding conifer spread.

Download the report here: Wilding Conifer Management in NZ: Policy Report

Please direct questions and comments on this report to: info@wildingpinenetwork.org.nz.

New research on invasion/ re-invasion risks

The Vive la Resistance programme, led by Scion, has recently received funding from MBIE for a five-year research grant. This programme will focus on understanding and preventing re-invasion of wilding conifers and building on the research of the Winning Against Wildings research programme. The outcomes of the Vive la Resistance programme will transform current wilding management practices by breaking an otherwise inevitable cycle of control / re-invasion / maintenance control.

In operational control areas, even where control of wilding conifers is effective, there is a high likelihood of re-invasion of wildings either from a surrounding seed source or from wilding seeds in the seed bank. Therefore, our wildings management programme is at risk of having to commit to long-term maintenance control to continually clear re-invaded areas. By using the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme as a large-scale operational field experiment, coupled with controlled experiments and modelling, this research will quantify the risk of conifer re-invasion and identify optimal strategies to prevent it.