Mayor John Leggett has welcomed today’s news of $3.7 million funding to fight wilding pines in Marlborough, announced by Minister for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor and Minister for Civil Defence Peeni Henare.
Control work for these invasive pests have been ongoing in Molesworth and the Marlborough Sounds, including collaborations by Marlborough District Council, the Department of Conservation, Pāmu New Zealand (formerly Landcorp), community trusts and landholders. While much of this boost is earmarked for Molesworth, this additional funding from the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme will enable more work in the Sounds and jumpstart two new programmes in Waihopai and The Ned (Te Hau).
“This is a huge win for biodiversity and protecting our natural landscapes in Marlborough. This funding is a major contribution to our current collaborations with central government and community groups to fight wilding pines,” Mayor Leggett said.
“There’s a perception out there that all trees are good but unfortunately wilding pines are not. They not only pose a threat to native ecosystems and waterways, but increase our risk of wildfires and threaten our economy long-term.”
Biosecurity Manager Jono Underwood says the Council’s primary role will be to coordinate the funding across all initiatives in Marlborough.
“The increased Crown investment means significant inroads are now possible to contain and reduce legacy infestations in the highly vulnerable South Marlborough landscape, as well as support the excellent community-led work in Marlborough.”
Ross Beech, who chairs the Marlborough Wilding Pines Steering Group, said he was “absolutely thrilled” to hear the news.
“This funding means we can extend the current control programmes and also get two new initiatives up and running.”
The Steering Group coordinates wilding pine control work in Marlborough through a partnership with DOC, LINZ, MPI, the Council, the Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust and the South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust.
In the Top of the South, about $5.1 million is being allocated to tackle 77,000 hectares of infestations, creating 63 new jobs.
- Marlborough will receive more than $3.7 million. The majority of this will fund control work in the Molesworth Recreation Reserve, with additional funding for the Marlborough Sounds, Waihopai, and The Ned (Te Hau).
- Rangitahi/Molesworth has received programme investment over the past four years, with great success. This additional $3.04 million means the programme is on track to address the central issues in and around Tarndale.
- Marlborough Sounds will receive $355,000 for an ongoing and successful programme led by the Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust.
- Waihopai will get a jumpstart on a new programme for a large area spanning the Ferny Gair Conservation area, Upper Waihopai and Wye catchments. This $187,500 will build a programme that begins to address wilding pines in the area.
- The Ned (Te Hau) will receive $115,000 in funding for a new initiative led by the South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust who are working with landholders in a 20,000-hectare area.
- In Nelson-Tasman, $1.3 million will fund a Department of Conservation initiative in Mt Richmond to make significant inroads controlling the seed source trees, and $119,750 to control wildings on Takaka Hill.
Wilding pines pose the biggest plant threat to New Zealand’s environment. The self-seeding trees spread aggressively, overwhelming native landscapes to the point where they destroy native plants and habitats. If left unchecked, these pines could take over a quarter of New Zealand’s landscape within 30 years - a $4.6 billion dollar threat to the national economy.
Wilding pines have spread from commercial forestry and previous practices of planting pine trees for the prevention of soil erosion. Led by Biosecurity New Zealand, the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme began in 2016 and aims to contain or eradicate all wilding pines by 2030. The programme is a collaboration between central and local government, landowners, farmers, iwi, researchers and community trusts.