Forest & Bird has sent a letter to the Prime Minister, and other Government Ministers, asking for increased funding for essential wilding pine control.
“Wilding pines are trees which have self-seeded and are growing where they are not supposed to be. They are the wrong tree in the wrong place. They are a threat to Aotearoa New Zealand’s native ecosystems and landscapes,” says Forest & Bird Canterbury and West Coast Regional Manager Nicky Snoyink.
The letter to Ministers asks for $100 million over four years. A previous budget allocated $21 million over 2019 and 2020.
“These trees spread so quickly that every year control and eradication efforts are delayed, the cost of removing wilding pines rises by 30%,” says Ms Snoyink.
If wilding pines are left to spread, the cost to the natural environment is estimated to be at least $331 million in biodiversity loss. This is likely to be a conservative estimate.**
One of the Government’s Budget 2020 priorities is a just transition to a climate-resilient, sustainable and low-emissions economy.
“Achieving a just transition requires a strong commitment to ensuring the natural environment is resilient as the climate changes,” says Ms Snoyink.
“Our native landscapes are being taken over by wilding pines. These weeds are threatening the places we love by sucking up fresh water, shading out native plants, and increasing fire risk.”
“Prioritising the protection and restoration of our native ecosystems will ensure a climate resilient future by preserving the high country grasslands we love, which have their own carbon storage benefits*, and have considerable benefits for catchment water retention and for native biodiversity.”
Under-funding future wilding pine control will have dire consequences for places like the Central Plateau, Marlborough high country, the Mackenzie Basin, and the upper Waimakariri.
Ms Snoyink says, “We need our incredible wild places, and right now they need us to act urgently on wilding pine eradication.”
Wilding pines spread fast. Currently these unwanted weeds affect at least 1.8 million hectares (almost 6%) of New Zealand’s land area. Unmanaged, within 30 years they will cover more than a quarter of New Zealand.
"Forest & Bird is urging the Government to increase funding for wilding pine control to $100 million over the next four years as part of ensuring a climate resilient future for Aotearoa."
*red tussock grasslands contain on average 194 tonnes of carbon per hectare in above ground vegetation and soil carbon. Exotic forest and scrub averages 249 tonnes of carbon per hectare. (Carswell et.al 2008; Synthesis of carbon stock information regarding conservation land. Maanaki Whenua/Landcare Research)
** $331 million in biodiversity loss is based on a cost benefit analysis prepared for the Ministry of Primary Industries. Unmanaged, wilding pines present a $4.6 billion threat to our economy as a whole.