A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said today.
The Minister said the Mt Richmond Forest Park had unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country.
“These special plant species are currently at risk of being lost due to the invasive pine forest in the area. The wilding conifer control work proposed in this project will restore the specialised ecosystems on unique mineral-rich rock types,” Mr O’Connor said.
Led by Tasman District Council, the $620,000 project is an extension of the $1.3 million Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) funding for Mt Richmond Forest Park Wilding Conifer control this year. The funding will create employment opportunities for an additional eight full time equivalent employees and training opportunities spread over a three-year period.
The Minister said employees would perform wilding conifer control throughout the Mt Richmond Forest Park and some adjoining privately owned and Marlborough and Nelson council lands (approx. 28,000 ha).
“This project creates employment opportunities specifically for local tourism workers whose jobs have been lost with the almost complete cessation of international tourism,” and also complements some silvicultural workers in the Tasman region,” he said.
The original proposal for MPI had been scoped prior to COVID-19 and was largely planned for helicopters to undertake aerial work and ground crews.
However this investment, through the Department of Conservation’s Jobs for Nature funding may allow ground control teams to substitute for some of the aerial work to better target smaller trees and seedlings.