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Date: 18th October 2022

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.

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