A helicopter has made short work of 260 hectares of wilding pines following the successful boom spraying of the steep and difficult to access areas at Mid Dome in northern Southland.
The spraying is part of a 12-year, $8 million project to eradicate the trees from the area after they were planted on 250 hectares in the 1940s and 50s to control erosion and have spread over nearly 8,000 hectares.
Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust Chairman Ali Timms says the removal of the wildings is eliminating a significant long term threat to an extensive area of conservation Crown and freehold lands, helping protect the ecological, economic, landscape and recreational values of this iconic part of Southland.
“The window for aerial spraying is always short because the weather needs to be warm, dry and relatively windless,” says Ms Timms.
“This year was touch and go as for a large part of the summer as it was either too windy, too wet or too cold and spraying only got underway in late February and earlier this month.
“What we’ve been able to spend on controlling mature seed-source trees this summer will save us money in the future by reducing the number of seedlings that would have been generated and subsequently removed.”
The Trust uses a variety of methods to eradicate the wilding pines. Contractors do the bulk of the work using ground spraying and chainsaws and every year volunteers also remove thousands of seedlings by hand during community work days that the Trust organises.
The Trust, representing the Department of Conservation, Environment Southland, Land Information New Zealand and local landowners, continues to combat the problem.
In addition to regular funding, last year the Trust also received a $1.2 million Government grant and a $300,000 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Community Environment Fund. This has enabled an expanded helicopter spraying work for this summer and successive summer aerial spraying programmes.