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NZDF Supports Efforts to Halt Spread of Wilding Pines

Air Commodore Andrew Clark, the Air Component Commander, said the NZDF deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force A109 helicopter this week to help survey about 150,000 hectares of public land from Blenheim to the north of Hanmer Springs for the presence of the trees, also referred to as wilding conifers.

The survey was conducted in support of the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme led by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Air Commodore Clark said.

The NZDF had its own programme to prevent the spread of the trees in defence-owned land and had a representative on the Wilding Conifer Governance Group chaired by MPI, he said.

“Our Defence Force has been contributing to this campaign, which has significant economic and environmental implications.”

Pines and other conifers offer shelter and opportunities for recreation and income if they grow in the right place. However, they become a pest if allowed to spread, infesting farmland, native ecosystems and water catchments.

National Wilding Conifer Control Programme manager Sherman Smith said like most pest-control efforts, preventing the spread of wilding conifers involved long-term collective efforts by landholders and other stakeholders.

“This means everyone working together today and being committed to sustain these efforts into the future,” he said.

The programme, which was launched in 2016, also involves the Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand, regional councils, private landholders and community trusts. So far it has protected more than two million hectares of high country, including farmland and conservation areas, from wilding conifer spread.

More information about the programme’s work in controlling the spread of wilding conifers is available at www.wildingconifers.org.nz

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