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Research & Analysis

The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme and the national strategy behind it are built on a large body of past research.  The Programme supports and carries out ongoing theoretical and applied research into wilding control, as part of the overarching goal to improve wilding conifer management. 

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Current research into wilding management

The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme supports relevant research and researchers including: 

  • 'Vive la resistance' programme, funded from the 2021 Endeavour programme by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, led by Scion Research. This research aims to find ways to reduce re-growth of wilding conifers after control and make landscapes less vulnerable to re-infestation. 

  • Winning against Wildings' research programme, completed in 2021, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, led by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. They looked to understand more about the causes of wilding infestations, the impacts, and ways to manage wildings.

The Programme also carries out and supports research including trials of new control methods, conducting environmental monitoring around control operations.

We are also investigating systems for infestation mapping, and developing an approach for post-control auditing after ground control operations, to gather data that may enhance maintenance planning. 

Research on the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme

Social Research: Views of rural decisions makers

The Survey of Rural Decision Makers (SRDM) is conducted by Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research every two years, collecting information from people in New Zealand’s primary sector including farmers, foresters, growers, and lifestyle block owners throughout New Zealand.

As part of the 2023 SRDM, the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme commissioned a set of questions specific to wilding conifer awareness and management.

View the report Wilding conifers and land use behaviour from the 2023 Survey of Rural Decision

Wilding conifer questions were also included in 2018: Management of Wilding Conifers in New Zealand: Evidence from Survey of Rural Decision Makers 2018

Reports from other social research and evaluation of the programme are also linked below.

Analysis: Costs vs benefits of coordinated wilding conifer management

An initial cost benefit analysis report on the of the Wilding Conifer Control Programme was prepared in 2018, by Sapere Research Group Limited, with the aim of assessing the economic benefits from controlling wilding pines, and comparing these with the costs of control. It compared the costs and benefits from four scenarios of different levels of investment in wilding control.

In 2022, with updated data after several years of control operations through the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme, another cost benefit analysis (CBA) was commissioned.

The 2022 report reconfirmed the findings of the 2018 analysis - that investing in wilding conifer control brings significant benefits. The biggest benefits are in reduced losses of water availability for irrigation and hydro-electric generation, and reduced costs of fire prevention and control.

Download the 2018 and 2022 CBA reports and other reports here:  

Published research into wilding conifers and wilding control

(In alphabetical order by authors)

  • Benecke, U. 1967. The Weed Potential of Lodgepole Pine. Tussock Grasslands and Mountain Lands Institute, 13: 36-43.

  • Briden, K., Raal, P. and Gous, S. 2014. Improving Methods for Wilding Conifer Control in New Zealand. In Baker M. (Ed.), Proceedings of the 19th Australasian Weeds Conference – Science, Community and Food Security: The Weed Challenge. Tasmanian Weed Society, Hobart, Tasmania, 369-371.

  • Brown, P. 2018. Management of wilding conifers in New Zealand: Survey evidence. Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research report.

  • Caplat, P., Coutts, S., Buckley, Y.M. and Zydenbos, S. 2010. Gone With the Wind: High-Resolution Analysis of Pine Dispersal in New Zealand Mountains. Proceedings of the 17th Australian Weeds Conference, 190-193.
  • Clifford, V. and Pearce, G. 2009. Fire Behaviour Case Study: Mt Cook Station Fire, 16 January 2008. Rotorua, NZ: Scion.

  • Dash J, Pearse G, Watt M, Paul T 2017. Combining airborne laser scanning and aerial imagery enhances echo classification for invasive conifer detection. Remote Sensing 9:156, doi: 10.3390/rs9020156.

  • Dickie IA, Bufford JL, Cobb RC, Desprez‐Loustau ML, Grelet G, Hulme PE, Klironomos J, Makiola A, Nuñez MA, Pringle A, Thrall PH 2017. The emerging science of linked plant–fungal invasions. New Phytologist 215: 1314–1332, doi: 101111/nph14657

  • Dickie IA, Cooper JA, Bufford JL, Hulme PE, Bates ST 2017. Loss of functional diversity and network modularity in introduced plant-fungal symbioses. AoB Plants 9: plw084

  • Essl F, Hulme PE, Leschke J, Keller R Pyšek P, Richardson DM, Saul W-C, Bacher S, Dullinger S, Estévez RA, Kueffer C, Roy HE, Seebens H & Rabitsch W 2017. Scientific and normative foundations for the valuation of alien species impacts: Thirteen core principles.  Bioscience 67: 166-178.

  • Froude, V.A. 2011. Wilding Conifers in New Zealand: Status Report, prepared for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Bay of Islands, NZ: Pacific Eco-Logic.

  • Froude, V.A. 2011. Wilding conifers in New Zealand: beyond the status report. Report prepared for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Pacific Eco-Logic, Bay of Islands. 44p.
  • Gundale, M.J.; Almeida, J.P.; Wallander, H., Wardle, D.A., Kardol, P., Nilsson, M.C., Fajardo, A., Pauchard, A., Peltzer, D.A., Ruotsalainen, S., Mason, B., Rosenstock, N. 2016. Differences in endophyte communities of introduced trees depend on the phylogenetic relatedness of the receiving forest. J. Ecology 104: 1219-1232.

  • Howell, C.J. 2008. Consolidated List of Environmental Weeds in New Zealand. Wellington, NZ: DOC Science & Technical Publishing.

  • Howell, C.J. 2016. Recreating the Invasion of Exotic Conifers in New Zealand. In Randall, R., Lloyd, S. and Borger, C. (Eds.) 20th Australasian Weeds Conference. Perth, Western Australia: Council of Australasian Weeds Societies Inc, 258-262.

  • Mark, A.F. and Dickinson, K.J.M. 2008. Maximising Water Yield with Indigenous Non-Forest Vegetation: A New Zealand Perspective. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 6: 25-34.

  • Mason NWH, Palmer DJ, Vetrova V, Brabyn L, Paul T, Willemse P, Peltzer DA. 2016. Accentuating the positive while eliminating the negative of alien tree invasions: a multiple ecosystem services approach to prioritising control efforts. Biological Invasions 19 (4):1181–1195.

  • Moeller HV, Dickie IA, Peltzer DA, Fukami T 2016. Hierarchical neighbor effects on mycorrhizal community structure and function. Ecology and Evolution 6:5416–5430.

  • Nuñez MA, Chiuffo MC, Torres A, Paul T, Dimarco RD, Raal P, Policelli N, Moyano J, García RA, van Wilgen BW, Pauchard A, Richardson DM. 2017. Ecology and management of invasive Pinaceae around the world: progress and challenges. Biological Invasions, in press, doi: 10.1007/s10530-017-1483-4.

  • Richardson, D.M. and Rejmánek, M. 2004. Conifers as Invasive Aliens: A Global Survey and Predictive Framework. Diversity & Distributions, 10: 321-331.

  • Taylor, K.T., Maxwell, B.D., Pauchard, A., Nuñez, M., Peltzer, D.A., Terwei, A., RewL.J. 2016. Drivers of plant invasion vary globally: evidence from pine invasions among six ecoregions. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25: 96-106.

  • Vanderhoeven S, Branquart E, Casaer J, D’hondt B, Hulme PE, Assaf Shwartz A, Strubbe D, Turbe A, Verreycken H & Tim Adriaens T 2017. Beyond protocols: improving the reliability of expert-based risk analysis underpinning invasive species policies.  Biological Invasions, in press, doi: 10.1007/s10530-017-1434-0

  • Vilà, M & Hulme, PE (2017) Impact of Biological Invasions on Ecosystem Services.  Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

  • Verlarde, S.J., Paul, T.S.H., Monge, J. and Yao, R. 2015. Cost Benefit Analysis of Wilding Conifer Management in New Zealand. Part 1– Important Impacts Under Current Management, Scion 41.

  • Wardle DA, Peltzer DA 2017 Impacts of invasive biota in forest ecosystems in an aboveground–belowground context. Biological Invasions, in press, doi: 10.1007/s10530-017-1372-x

  • Yletyinen, J., J. Tylianakis, P. Brown, and R. Pech. 2017. “Planning for tipping points and enhancing resilience in production landscapes.” Landcare Research Policy Brief 18 (ISSN: 2357-1713).

  • Zenni RD, Dickie IA, Wingfield MJ, Hirsch H, Crous CJ, Meyerson LA, Burgess TI, Zimmermann TG, Klock MM, Siemann E, Erfmeier A, Aragon R, Montii L, Le Roux JJ 2017. Evolutionary dynamics of tree invasions: complementing the unified framework for biological invasions. AoB Plants 9:plw085

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