Thursday, April 25, 2024

Otago welcomes wilding pines funding boost

Otago Regional Council Chair, Gretchen Robertson, has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an additional $7 million in funding to continue wilding pines programmes.

Chair Robertson said the control of wilding pines was important in the Otago region.

“Wilding pines cause problems for biodiversity, water yield, fire risk, primary production and landscape value,” she said.

“Great progress has been made. We can’t afford to go backwards.

“To consider reducing funding at this point couldn’t have come at a worse time for our Otago wilding pines control programme,” she said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) last week announced at the Wilding Pine Network Conference that funding from the Department of Conservation (DOC) will be added to the National Programme for Wilding Conifers for the current financial year.

Chair Robertson said that around 8.4% of Otago’s land area, 295,830 hectares, is affected by wilding pines. About 70% of Otago is assessed as ‘very highly vulnerable’ to future infestation, making it the most wilding-prone land in the country, she said.

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

Wilding pines

MPI outlined the prioritisation for funding for all regions under the National Programme comes under:

  • Most spread prone species
  • Vulnerability of surrounding land
  • Area/cost ratio
  • Additional Considerations

“We know that Otago has very highly spread-prone species, NZ’s most vulnerable land to this spread and huge benefits to acting. We’re hopeful for good regional allocation to Otago, we have a strong case for investment,” said Chair Robertson.

There are 36 Management Units (MUs) where the Programme will deliver operations this year – all are high priority sites for maintenance control to prevent regeneration where control has already started.

The DoC funding will be allocated across 24 of these MUs, mostly in the South Island and also parts of the Central North Island, focused on some key areas where infestations threaten land with high conservation values if not maintained.

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