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Cracking on with getting the wrong tree out of the wrong place

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Federated Farmers says today’s announcement of extra funding for clearing pest pine trees, known as ‘wilding pines’ is a good move towards rebuilding New Zealand’s economy.

The government’s announcement of a programme to employ people to remove the trees in Northland, East Coast, Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury is a positive start, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

"Hopefully this is a taste of a much more extensive environmental work programme coming in Thursday’s Budget as, unfortunately, 160 new jobs will only just touch the sides when it comes to controlling these trees," Chris says.

The wilding pine problem has been raised by Feds with the government many times, and it featured in the environmental and economic work programme suggestions the organisation made to the government in March.

Wilding pines are conifers which grow where they are not wanted, spread by wind-blown seeds and recognized as a pest weed problem for many years. A national control programme struggles with this extremely difficult to control biodiversity problem.

"We estimate at least a doubling of the current annual spent is required - in the order of $100 million over the next four years will be needed to turn the problem around - even more would be great as every dollar spent up front is more than a dollar saved in the long run," Chris says.

Getting rid of wilding pines, whether it be in high country tussock lands that are catchments for a significant proportion of hydro electricity generation or be it exotic trees spreading into native bush, is vital.

"Removing wilding pines is about getting rid of the wrong tree from the wrong place.

"The beauty is that money spent now will achieve much more than if we wait just another year.

"This is clear example of where advancing spending will actually save a lot more time, money and effort in the medium to long term."

Federated Farmers has its fingers crossed that this week’s Budget will bring a significantly larger commitment to a wide range of initiatives that will provide much needed employment, make good economic sense and have lasting environmental benefits.

This includes more money for wilding pines control, a big boost to pest control expenditure and significant funding for catchment-based initiatives such as riparian plantings, wetland enhancement and soil erosion. All provide water quality and indigenous biodiversity benefits.

Feds says work should concentrate on degraded and at-risk catchments to provide a much needed boost to provincial economies and jobs for those who need them.

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