Many conifer species – such as pines and firs – benefit New Zealand . But certain species, and plantings in some places, can seed wilding trees that quickly spread.
Spreading wilding conifers on Clarence River, Marlborough
Conifer seeds can be blown many kilometres by wind, and have spread into areas such as farmland, the high country (including above the native bush line) and public conservation land. Seedlings quickly infest an area. If they aren’t removed, they can grow into dense, impenetrable wilding conifer forests. They often grow in mixed species groups, and their timber has either minimal or no value, or costs too much to remove because of access problems and density.
The spread of wilding conifers threatens productive farmland, New Zealand lifestyles, iconic landscapes and native ecosystems, tourism opportunities, and our national economy.
By the early 2000s, many individuals and groups saw the spread of wilding seedlings from conifer plantings as a serious problem. By 2016, this spread affected over 2 million hectares – an area larger than all our commercial forests combined.
Follow the links below to learn about wilding conifers effects on farmland, ecosystems, and biodiversity and water.
Despite the huge areas of land threatened by wilding conifers, these are one of New Zealand’s easiest weed problems to deal with. Their seedlings are easily spotted and seeds seldom survive in the soil beyond five years.
We are now making good progress with our national efforts to contain and control these weeds.
Many committed individuals and groups have already taken big steps to control New Zealand’s wildings, and they could use your help. See our Community groups page (quick link below) for groups in your area and other ways to help.
New Zealand is not alone with this wilding conifer crisis. Other southern hemisphere countries, including South Africa, Australia, Chile and Argentina, also introduced spread-prone conifer trees for forestry and erosion control. Now they’ve become invasive weeds in these countries, too.