A one-off funding allocation for the control of wilding pines has been welcomed by the Otago Regional Council.
The government recently announced that an extra $7 million in funding from the Department of Conservation is being added to the National Programme for Wilding Conifers to allow wilding pines programmes to continue this financial year.
This is in addition to the $7.5m allocated from Budget 2020, which is coming to an end this year.
Otago Regional Council chair Gretchen Robertson said the funding will be split between affected regions.
She said wilding pines cause problems for biodiversity, water yield, fire risk, primary production and landscape value.
“Great progress has been made. We can’t afford to go backwards,” she said.
“To consider reducing funding at this point couldn’t have come at a worse time for our Otago wilding pines control programme.”
About 8.4% of Otago’s land area, 295,830ha, is affected by wilding pines and an estimated 70% of Otago is assessed as “very highly vulnerable” to future infestation, making it the most wilding-prone land in New Zealand.
About $10m a year was budgeted nationally for the next decade, but regional councils have urged the government to commit $25m a year for the next decade.