Go on a wilding hunt

EMMA DANGERFIELD
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012

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Kaikoura

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Do you care about the environment and enjoy getting out among nature? Has it been a while since you admired the view of Kaikoura from atop Mt Fyffe?

If the answer to either question is yes, you can join a group of like-minded folk for a walk up the mountain on Saturday to tackle the wilding pine problem and do your bit for local conservation.

Members of Forest & Bird and the Kaikoura Tramping Club, in conjunction with the Department of Conservation (DOC), are undertaking the initiative in a concerted effort to slow the spread of the plant pest.

One of the organisers of Saturday's drive, Ailsa Howard, said attention to the problem was vital to prevent the species taking over the entire mountain range.

The plant was introduced to certain areas until the 1970s to help stop shingle movement after flooding of the district's waterways. However, things are quite different nowadays.

"Practices in nature and the way we deal with the environment have really changed a lot over the years," she said.

"And the explosion of pines in the last 10 years has been really profound. They are just so successful."

The pine seeds are distributed down the coast and across the ranges by the wind and the trees are incredibly hardy, making them a real risk to the mountain range. They can be dealt with by spraying, in particular the tips of the trees, but this method is a last resort, and hand-pulling is more effective for dealing with the seedlings.

On a recent walk up to the summit of Mt Fyffe, Ailsa was horrified to find wilding pines.

She hopes others will be equally horrified and join her and the group in eradicating at least some of the invasive trees.

"This is just part of taking responsibility for something which is actually becoming a very serious issue."

The plan is to spend a few hours above the hut clearing trees, while enjoying the mountains, fresh air and company. If the weather is terrible the project will be postponed until later in the summer.

Volunteers are to meet at Mt Fyffe car park at 8.30am on Saturday. Bring warm clothes and sensible footwear.

In the South Island, wilding pines threaten 210,000 hectares of DOC-administered public land. They are also present on privately owned land and other public land such as roadsides. They are considered a threat to biodiversity, farm productivity and to landscape values.organiser

Ailsa Howard would like to hear from willing volunteers before Saturday's working bee. Contact 03 319 6797 or 027 436 3636.

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- Kaikoura Star

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