14 Dec 2016

Govt told to stump up for wilding pine problem

8:28 pm on 14 December 2016

It is unacceptable the government will not properly fix a wilding tree problem created by its own plantations, a leading botanist says.

Wilding pines spread near Lake Pukaki.

Wilding pines spread near Lake Pukaki. Photo: MPI

Southland's Mid Dome Trust, one of the country's largest wilding conifer programmes, has written to the government warning it might have to close if not given a major funding increase.

The trust had spent eight years and $7 million on tree removals and was ready to tackle the core seed source trees, but only received $90,000 from the government this year.

Three weeks ago it wrote to three agencies that run the national wilding conifer strategy, requesting urgent intervention.

It said it had not received a response.

Mid Dome Trust chair Ali Timms said the project had a budget of $1m a year, but the government was misinformed if it thought the trust could survive without proper backing.

University of Otago botany professor Sir Alan Mark, who is a member of the trust, said the problem was out of control.

"The whole thing is explosive ... With no funding from the government to deal with Mid Dome, being a government-initiated problem, is just totally unacceptable."

The trust had cleared a lot of ground but could lose it all if it was not supported soon, Sir Alan said.

The government announced about $4m a year to deal with wilding trees in its Budget in May.

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