Kill the trees save the people

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The control of wilding pines in the Wakatipu is crucial to saving lives, a top Department of Conservation official says. 

DoC Wakatipu area boss Greg Lind, speaking at last Thursday’s annual general meeting of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group, praised efforts to clear large tracts around Closeburn and towards the Queenstown hill suburbs of Fernhill and Sunshine Bay. 

“If nothing is done about that situation, lives will be lost.” 

Referring to out-of-control scrub fires at Closeburn in October and then January, Lind warned: “If we’d had different conditions, Sunshine Bay and Fernhill would have gone up.” 

Group chairman Peter Willsman’s annual report says they’re “on the cusp” of controlling conifer spread in parts of the Wakatipu. 

Willsman praised Queenstown Lakes District Council for its $127,000 annual grant and Skyline Enterprises for its $50,000 contribution, but criticised Otago Regional Council.