Needled council consults on trees


Otago Regional Council’s change of heart over wilding pines is being welcomed by a world-renowned botanist.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry – while in Queenstown in September – blasted the council for “dragging the chain” over the spread of wilding pines. 

Yesterday the council launched a specific page on its website and says it plans to seek public input through a survey. 

Botanist emeritus professor Sir Alan Mark, of Dunedin, welcomes the move.

Mark, a foundation member of the Mid Dome Wilding Tree Charitable Trust, says he has long made submissions to the regional council and is pleased it has “seen the light”.

Other regional councils, including Environment Southland and Environment Canterbury, have helped fight the spread of wilding pines.

Mark’s pleased the Otago council is now “coming on board”.

Wilding pines are a major national issue, he says, and a big regional problem in Otago.

Further wilding conifer spread needs to be tackled effectively and early in Otago, otherwise the result will be “almost unmanageable”, he says.

Last month the regional council met affected parties, including representatives of district councils, and of trusts battling the spread of wilding conifers, and they supported the ORC playing a more active role over the issue.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead recently warned about the growing scale of the problem, saying 300,000ha of Otago land was already affected and wilding conifers were projected to spread at a rate of 5 per cent – adding about 15,000ha each year. 

Otago Daily Times