Our Conservation Champions for January 2012 are the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group.

Conservation Champions logo.
Celebrating businesses, community groups, iwi and volunteers who are making important contributions to conservation in New Zealand

Wilding pine volunteers on Ben Lomond.
Volunteers on Ben Lomond

Working hard.
Working hard

The Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) is a community organisation focused on protecting the biodiversity and landscape of the Wakatipu. The Group, created in April 2009, recently won the Otago Inland Conservation Awards for their significant contributions to conservation in the area.

The WCG’s aim is simple—to control wilding pines. Queenstown is renowned worldwide for its stunning and iconic landscapes, but they are under threat from wilding trees. Wilding conifers threaten and replace native beech forests and tussock, and are capable of rapidly and significantly changing the landscape, potentially obliterating it under a monoculture.

The WCG coordinates the responsibilities of agencies, landowners/managers and the general public. Volunteers in the Group represent Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC), DOC, Otago Regional Council (ORC) and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), as well as landowners, managers, community groups and concerned members of the public.

An example of what the cross-border approach of the WCG has achieved in the Wakatipu area can be seen on Queenstown Hill, where last year QLDC, DOC and local landowner Arnold Middleton joined forces to spray wilding pine creeping up Queenstown Hill. This has been a spectacular success.

Cecil Peak Station also has long-established relationship with the Group, who help combat wilding pines on the lake faces of the station. DOC staff, members of WCG, and other volunteers, make regular trips—they travel to the top by helicopter, before spending a day walking downhill and pulling up or cutting down anything ‘piney’ in their path.

On the hit list for the future are wildings on farmland on Coronet Peak, Mount Dewar, Waitiri and Loch Linnhe Stations and in the Von Valley. There will also be work on conservation land in the Remarkables and a continuation of the ‘ring of death’ wilding containment in Skippers Canyon. It’s a big job—one that is much bigger than just DOC or QLDC and one to which many local landowners and businesses have pledged their support, and money.

The bulk of the group’s funds are from QLDC, but a significant input (15%) has come from the local farmers. Forest & Bird and Skyline have also put forward money. In addition, the group’s Charitable Trust status allows it to apply for additional funding.

The Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group.
The Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group

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