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A National Strategy to manage wildings

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Why New Zealand needed a strategy for wilding conifer management

In 2014, despite  the collective efforts of central government, local government, and land holders, large areas of New Zealand were affected by wilding conifers and they were  spreading by more than 5 percent - around 90,000 hectares - each year. If left unchecked, these tree weeds would cover 20 percent of New Zealand by 2030.
The New Zealand Wilding Conifer Management Strategy 2015-2030 was developed in response to this threat, and the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme was established in 2016 to deliver on the aims of the strategy.
The strategy balances the good and bad of conifers - minimising the negative impacts of wilding conifers, while keeping beneficial conifer plantings. It also highlights that wilding conifer management is a complex and long-term undertaking. 

Vision: The right tree in the right place

In the right place, conifer trees have benefits for New Zealand. They provide timber, store carbon, decrease erosion, filter soil nutrients, improve water quality, and provide shelter and shade for stock. In the wrong place they are a major threat: to our ecosystems, landscape and farms. They out-compete native plants and animals, remove up to 40% of water from a catchment, limit productive land use options on high country farms and severely alter natural landscapes. Wilding conifers may also increase the risk of wild fires and harbour disease. Without decisive action, preventing them from spreading further would soon be beyond our grasp.

Aim: Prevent the spread of wilding conifers, and contain or eradicate established areas of wilding conifers by 2030.

Approach: Improve management of wilding conifers through:  

    • individual and collective responsibility being recognised

    • cost-effective and timely action 

    • prioritisation of wilding management

    • coordination of policy, operations, communications, research and best practice

Outcomes for New Zealand:

    • Collaborative action: Key parties collaborate to minimise the negative economic, environmental and landscape impacts of wilding conifers including land occupiers, researchers, regulators and communities.

    • Beneficial conifer plantings continue: wilding conifers are pests, but planted conifers are valuable resources – radiata pine and Douglas fir are New Zealand’s third-largest export earner after dairy and meat

    • Prevent the spread: Limit the risk of conifer spread from high risk plantings and prevent or reduce the spread  from new and existing conifer plantings and from wilding infestations.

    • Wilding conifer management and control is timely and effective: Effective control includes an approach that:
      • protects conservation values including native ecosystems and plant species
      • protects iconic landscapes for local communities and tourists
      • supports New Zealand’s brand of responsible natural wood products
      • protects productive farming and forestry land