March 03, 2020
The New Zealand Wilding Conifer Group notes the recent proposal from Hon Shane Jones to relocate forestry crews who are out of work, due to Coronavirus-related market issues, to help control wilding pines. We commend this creative suggestion to combat the spread of wilding pines, and we are encouraged by this proposal. We would be interested in more details about how the logistics would work and would be happy to be part of discussions and provide advice on this proposal.
The New Zealand Wilding Conifer Group represents the community-based organisations, industry sectors, and agencies involved in the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme led by Biosecurity NZ. Notwithstanding this proposal, we would like to take this opportunity to urge the government to increase national funding for wilding pine control. Wilding pines are the wrong tree in the wrong place, and they are able to spread rapidly, overwhelming our indigenous ecosystems and as well as productive hill and high country land. Unmanaged, wilding pines present a $4.6 billion threat to our economy.
A recent Cost Benefit Analysis commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries found that investing $118 Million in wilding pine control over the next 4 years will result in a net benefit of $6.1 Billion. The ratio of benefit to cost for this level of investment is 38:1. Richard Bowman, the chair of the New Zealand Wilding Conifer Group, says that “this ratio is incredibly high and demonstrates the huge economic benefit of investing in wilding pine control now.”
The New Zealand Wilding Conifer Group is encouraged by the suggestion to use spare capacity in the forest industry as a way to control wilding pines in the short term. However, really what we need is long term and increased funding from Central Government to achieve the goal of eliminating the threat posed by the spread of unwanted wilding trees across New Zealand.