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

Date: 15th May 2023

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.

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