The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme has announced $175,000 to help complete the control of the wilding pines in the Arrowtown area. The funding has allowed the project to reach their target of $1.4 million, allowing them to complete removal of the wilding pines started in 2017.
Arrowtown is a small historic town in the southern half of the South Island. Located within Otago’s high country, next to the Arrow River, Arrowtown sits within the Arrow Basin which was carved out by glaciers.
The distinctive landscape is made up of rugged mountains, broken valleys, rock edifices shaped by moving glaciers. This environment is home to native vegetation; mostly scrub and tussock land. Some of these plant species are unique and can only be found here. These include coprosmas, manuka and kanuka, carmichaelia or native broom and Olearia odorata, the scented tree daisy.
Arrowtown has a distinctive and fragile ecosystem which is also home to native animals. There are birds, invertebrates and a number of New Zealand lizards, including the McCann’s skink (native to the Central Otago tussock land) the nocturnal short-toed gecko (found only in the southern South Island) and the korero gecko, whose population is declining.
Wildings are threatening the delicate balance of the scrub and tussock lands. Without action, they will overwhelm this unique and fragile ecosystem.
Volunteers have been a huge part of the work to fight wildings. Two and a half years ago the Arrowtown community came together to discuss the problems of wilding pines and the Arrowtown Wilding Group was formed. Large numbers have turned up for community days, including the Arrowtown Choppers who remove wilding pines in their spare time.
The Arrowtown wilding pine control project is a collaborative effort. It brings together the Arrowtown Village Association, Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association, the Wilding Conifer Group (WCG), QLDC, the Otago Regional Council, QEII National Trust, Land Information New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, private landowners and National Wilding Conifer Control Programme.
The Wilding Conifer Control Programme has committed $175,000 to support the project. With will bring the funding to the $1.4 million required for the Arrowtown Wilding Group’s wilding pine control programme. Other key funders for the project include Central Lakes Trust and Community Trust South, who have contributed $600,000 and $120,000 respectively.
The project will protect 670 hectares of land surrounding the town. This will mean in the future these Central Otago hills will no longer be shaded by wilding pines but will return to scrub and tussock, allowing locals and visitors to appreciate a truly New Zealand landscape and for local biodiversity to slowly be restored.