Waikato Regional Council has started wilding pine control in new locations at Opito Bay and Whenuakite in the Coromandel Peninsula, with work already completed at Black Jack Reserve where 34,000 wilding pines were hand-sawn, hand-pulled or chemically treated. Work has also been completed on AhuAhu/Great Mercury Island, and control work continues on the Matarangi Bluff Scenic Reserve.
The funding for the control work in Opito Bay and other parts of the Kūaotunu Peninsula was applied for by Kūaotunu Peninsula Trust with support from the Opito Bay Ratepayers Association, Project Kiwi Trust and Rings Beach Wetland Group. In Whenuakite, the control sites are on a total of about 108 hectares of private land in Boat Harbour Road.
“These volunteer groups do outstanding and back-breaking work to control wilding pines which are a huge threat to biodiversity and the primary sector”, said Denis Tegg – Thames Coromandel’s elected representative on the Waikato Regional Council.
“If nothing is done to control them, within 30 years they will have taken over significant parts of New Zealand’s iconic landscapes and unique natural habitats.”
Wilding pines spread prolifically from seed and grow fast to form a dense canopy which shades the forest floor, killing and preventing the growth of all other plant species and displacing the habitat of native animal species”, said Cr Tegg.
“Because the pines are a fire hazard more needs to be spent on fire prevention and wilding pines are a also a threat to waterways because they can reduce water flow into rivers by 30-40 per cent.”
The Coromandel Peninsula has many iconic New Zealand native species, including Coromandel brown kiwi, kākā, long-tailed bats and kauri.
“Wilding pine control also presents a potential risk to these species through disturbance, so Regional Council has surveyed the sites for their presence and have strict procedures in place where they exist.”
“No wilding pines will be felled where kākā or kiwi are nesting or bats roosting – control will be by drill and fill – and clean hygiene protocols for kauri protection will be carried out by contractors working near kauri”, said Cr Tegg.
Waikato Regional Council made an aggressive bid for funding through the Ministry of Primary Industries’ wilding pine control programme. About $1.3m is going to nine community projects in Coromandel and Taupō. Find out more about the community projects in the Waikato. Read the governments strategy here
Denis Tegg – Thames Coromandel’s elected representative on Waikato Regional Council