Whakatipu Wilding Control Group (WCG) chair Grant Hensman quips they need to ‘‘mint a truck-load’’ of bronze medals to acknowledge the extensive, combined efforts over 16 years to bring wilding confers under control.

Otago Regional Council (ORC) chair Gretchen Robertson says the management of the Shotover wildings — encompassing about 66,700 hectares in the Mt Aurum, Skippers and Macetown area — is now moving to a maintenance phase, though she notes adequate funding’s still needed to control seedling regrowth and wildings on neighbouring management areas so there’s no re-infestation.

It’s been a joint effort between WCG, ORC, Department of Conservation, Queenstown’s council, Land Information New Zealand, the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme, contractors, volunteers, landowners, managers and funding supporters.

The first introduced conifer species were planted near the Skippers cemetery around 1880, and small plantings around buildings soon after.

By the mid-20th century, the spread was apparent.

Hensman says moving to a management phase is cause for celebration, and due to the removal of all known seeding trees since 2008.

‘‘Repeat visits each year, diminishing in intensity, are programmed to mop up residual infestation.

‘‘This is not without threats to success, chief among them budget cuts by government.’’

He says future generations should be grateful to all of those involved.

‘‘But the irony is that when we do our job well, they won’t know what they almost lost and will rightly take as normal uninfested native flora and fauna, never realising the cost and effort that went into preserving it for them.’’

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