Ground-based teams and a specialist helicopter operator have been employed to control wilding pines in the Catchpool Valley, Remutaka Forest Park near Wainuiomata.
Wilding pines are more than weeds, they are an economic and environmental pest. Unlike the trees in commercial pine forests they are not intentionally planted and they spread aggressively, competing with and ruining habitat for native species. Removing these pines will create space for native bush to return.
“The pines are long overdue to be removed. And with the help of the government’s COVID-19 recovery package, we’ve been able to put some skilled people to work,” says DOC’s Kapiti Wellington Operations Manager Jack Mace.
“As a result of the package we were able to work with contractors who took on more staff to meet the demands of the work, which is a particularly great outcome as the country moves into economic recovery.”
Support totalling $140,000 has gone to employ ten Upper Hutt-based ground crew experienced in chainsaw felling and a Wairarapa-based helicopter contractor to complete aerial spraying. All were impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown, during which they were unable to work.
Access to the park will be affected by the work, but only for the short window while a helicopter is being used. The aerial spraying will take place over two days of fine weather between now and 6 July. The Catchpool valley road, carpark and campsite will be closed. Only visitors with confirmed booking in DOC’s Ōrongorongo valley huts will be permitted to pass through.
Updates will be posted on the Catchpool and Ōrongorongo pages on the DOC website when dates are confirmed and notices will also be posted at the site.
“We appreciate people’s patience while we complete this important work. We know visitors are keen to return to their favourite outdoor spaces. We are also keen to get back to work making sure those places are thriving for nature.”
Wilding pines overwhelm our native landscapes, killing native plants and forcing out native animals.
Unlike commercial forests, wilding pines are weeds. They are self-seeded, spread aggressively and not intentionally planted. Once they get established, wilding pines spread quickly. Without national intervention wilding pines will spread to 7.5 million hectares of vulnerable land within 30 years.
The cost of unchecked wilding pine spread would reach $4.6 billion over 50 years. We would lose biodiversity, including many of New Zealand’s most sensitive landscapes and water catchments.
About the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme
The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme began in 2016, and aims to contain or eradicate all wilding pine infestations by 2030. Prior to the programme wildings were invading the equivalent to 9 high country stations (90,000 hectares) a year.
Led by Biosecurity New Zealand, the programme is a successful collaboration between central and local government, landowners, farmers, forestry owners, iwi, researchers and community trusts.
Over the last three years this successful programme has covered over 1.5 million hectares throughout the country and protected more than 3 million hectares of New Zealand’s most vulnerable landscapes.