Wilding conifer control programme - Mid Dome
The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme aims to prevent the spread of these tree pests and to progressively remove them from much of the land already invaded. In Murihiku Southland there are several priority control areas including Mid Dome, Takitimu and Mavora. In addition, a programme to control Pinus Radiata at Motupōhue/Bluff Hill has been completed.
The Right tree in the right place: The New Zealand wilding conifer management strategy 2015-2030 provides the framework for the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme.
The Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation, and Land Information New Zealand are leading the work, with support from other central and local government agencies. Forestry and farming industries, landowners, researchers and communities are also providing support.
In Southland the programme is set to run for four years, with $8 million in funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries and $480,000 from Environment Southland. The regional council is partnered with MPI, Land Information New Zealand, the Department of Conservation and the Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust.
The objective of the programme is to control mature Pinus contorta and Pinus mugo in the Mid Dome and Takitimu programme areas.
The wilding conifer problem
Wilding conifers are a threat to our land and farms. It's estimated 20% of New Zealand will be covered in unwanted wilding conifers within 20 years if their spread isn't stopped. Wilding conifers already cover more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand. Despite control efforts, they have been spreading at about 5% a year. That's about 90,000 more hectares a year.
Planted in the right place, introduced conifer trees such as pines and firs can:
- provide timber
- store carbon
- decrease erosion
- filter soil nutrients
- improve water quality
- provide shelter and shade for stock.
In the wrong place, these conifers are a major threat to New Zealand's ecosystems, land and farms. Their seeds can be blown many kilometres by wind, and have spread into areas such as farmland, the high country (including above the native bush line), and public conservation land. Seedlings quickly infest an area. If they aren't removed, these wilding conifer trees compete with native plants and animals for sunlight and water, and can severely alter natural landscapes.
Controlling the spread of wilding conifers is important if we're to protect our ecosystems, iconic landscapes and farms. Control will also help with water conservation.
Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust
Mid Dome stands as a sentinel above the crossroads that mark halfway between Invercargill, Queenstown, and Fiordland National Park. In its shadow lie some of Southland and Otago’s most valuable and vulnerable high country tussock and pastoral grasslands.
Contorta pine was planted on Mid Dome between the 1950s and 1980s for erosion control. Strong prevailing nor’westerly winds make Mid Dome a perfect take-off point for the millions of seeds these wilding pines produce every year. Offspring from these very light, winged seeds have been found 40 kilometres downwind of Mid Dome and up to altitudes of 1400 metres. The shade beneath the canopy of dense wilding pines eliminate all other plants beneath them.
If not eradicated, it is predicted that wilding pines in the Mid Dome area will totally overwhelm 61,000 ha of high country tussock and pastoral grassland in the short term, and infest a further 100,000 hectares by 2053.
The primary goal of the Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust is to protect the ecological, economic, landscape and recreational values of over 100,000 ha of iconic southern high country pastoral and tussock land. They do this by working to eradicate wilding pines from Mid Dome and surrounding land, and then handover the management of any re-growth to local landowners.