16 March 2015
More than 8,000 wilding trees have been lopped, chopped and sprayed at Coronet Peak Station in a three-day weed-busting blitz carried out by a band of students from Invercargill’s Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).
QEII National Trust Regional Representative Rob Wardle and Soho Property Ltd’s overseer Russell Hamilton hosted 10 Bachelor of Environmental Management students who swapped the classroom and their weekend to tackle the problem trees.
The trip was the initiative of SIT lecturer Dr Ross Ramsay who offered his students and his own services to support the recently registered Mahu Whenua QEII National Trust covenants near Arrowtown. The covenants protect 53,000 hectares of land across Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak stations.
In some areas on the stations wilding trees have taken root and spread across the landscape. If left unchecked the exotic trees will dominate the four stations in a few decades,reducing much of the area’s native biodiversity and celebrated high country scenery, and impacting negatively on the area’s hydrology.
Landholder, Soho Property Ltd, has already spent well over $1m on wilding tree control, complementing the wider initiatives of a number of agencies and groups all working under the umbrella of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group.
Based at the Vincent Ski Club Hut at Coronet Peak, the group removed mostly larch (Larix decidua) and lodge pole pine (Pinus contorta) using hand loppers, hand saws and basal bark spray.
‘The students’ have made a really valuable contribution to the wilding tree problem on the station.
‘It is incredible how much they got done in three days. The National Trust and Soho Property Ltd are pretty impressed with their efforts and very appreciative of their support,’ Rob Wardle says.
It is hoped the wilding tree blitz will become an annual event, with ground control work complementing the current programme of aerial boom control and spot spraying.
Media liaison - Anne McLean, Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, 04 474 1689 – www.openspace.org.nz - email@example.com