News and stories

Wilding conifer control efforts smash targets


25 November 2021

The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme made huge strides in the 2020/2021 financial year, tackling more than half of its four-year target for wilding conifer control work in 12 months.

The programme has been able to supercharge efforts because of an injection of $100m Jobs for Nature funding in 2020. Control crews and community projects have collectively treated 817,000 hectares from Te Taitokerau Northland to Motupōhue Bluff, and in the process created more than 1,000 full or part-time jobs in the last year

In the right place, conifers offer shelter and opportunities for recreation and income, but left to spread in the wrong place they become a pest - infesting native ecosystems, farmland and water catchments.

And they are costly pests – it’s estimated that wilding pines (which actually may be one of a dozen species of conifer, including pine, larch, spur and fir) cost $100 million every year in lost productivity, lost water for irrigation and hydro-electricity generation, and the costs of fire prevention and control.

Working together to bring large-scale wilding pine infestations under control brings important environmental, social and economic benefits. These include protecting Māori sites and areas of significance, such as Mount Tarawera, pictured below.

The Ruawāhia/Mount Tarawera Wilding Pine Control Project is a collaborative partnership to eradicate wilding pines from Ruawāhia / Mount Tarawera in the Bay of Plenty. The project now employs five Ngāti Rangitihi iwi members to restore and maintain 1,897 hectares of indigenous vegetation. Their success has seen them nominated as finalists in the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

A dollar spent today to bring this problem under control saves future cost, due to the seeding potential of these weeds. If control work is delayed, the wider the spread and the more expensive it becomes to control.  

The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme is led by Biosecurity New Zealand, in partnership with the Department of Conservation, Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand, the New Zealand Defence Force, regional and local government, local community, iwi and hapū groups, researchers, industry and landowners.

You can find out more about these pest plants on the Wilding Pines website.