Wild about wildings

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Wilding pines in the Wakatipu are a private landowner’s problem, not the Otago Regional Council’s, an ORC report says.

Queenstown Lakes District Council forks out $120,000 a year controlling contorta pine, while tourism heavyweight Skyline Enterprises plans spending up to $50,000 every year to stop the trees spreading in Queenstown’s Ben Lomond and Bowen Peak areas.

ORC considers a report recommending funding be declined on June 23.

“The pest management strategy identifies that the responsibility for control of pests lies with landowners. It is therefore not ORC’s responsibility to invest operational fund in this matter,” the report says.

Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group chairman Peter Willsman says wilding pine nettles blanket the ground, blocking native species from growth and could potentially change the whole of our back country.

“It’s irresponsible of ORC to throw it back on landowners. The task is too big and other regional councils recognise landowners can’t do anything about it,” Willsman says.