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Volunteer group help to cull wilding pine seedlings in northern Southland

11 March 2018

 Jenny Campbell 

A keen, enthusiastic and committed group of 28 people from across Southland, Otago, the North Island and even from around the world used a lot of energy to remove wilding pine seedlings from a large face at the top of Mid Dome in northern Southland on Saturday. 

Environment Southland biosecurity officer and organiser for the day Adam Brown said the problem arose when non-native species were planted to try to prevent erosion in the high country, such as at Mid Dome, with the wildings resulting and taking over the native tussock grasslands. 

Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust chair Ali Timms Ballentine told the participants that the Trust was formed in 2006 after the risks from wildings to farmland, fire danger and the loss of water through the trees were recognised and responded to. 

“Over the years, with about 30 volunteers at each of two working bees a year, they have removed millions of seedlings and trees which is invaluable and vital for the Trust’s work,” she said. 

“Wildings are a great problem across the country, often not recognised. 

“Costs this year are $1735 per hectare, so with help from volunteers, more efficient chemicals and techniques, they all make the dollars go further.” 

Boffa Miskell project manager Marcus Girvan said he managed all operational activities for the Trust, including aerial boom spraying, aerial basal bark application and ground control teams mostly using chainsaws plus volunteers using hand-tools. 

“I have been in this position for five years with over a million-dollar budget in the past two years thanks to funding partners of Department of Conservation, ES and Land Information New Zealand,” he said. 

“We are making good progress with aerial spraying and ground crews with the aim to get seedlings before the 4-year-old stage when they start forming cones and seeding, which will destroy all the good work we have done to date.” 

Timms Ballentine said the Trust had a multi-million dollar application in to the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme administered by Ministry for Primary Industries it was hoping would be successful. 

“Thank you to the Environment Southland and Department of Conservation staff who have spent this time on their weekend to work with the energetic volunteers to make this such an effective working bee in these ideal mild, calm and overcast conditions.” 

Source: Stuff.co.nz