Monday, 24 September 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Funding boost to Rings Beach Wetland Group

The Rings Beach Wetland Group (RBWG), a community group eradicating wilding pines at Rings Beach, has been given a $90,000 funding boost by Waikato Regional Council.

The decision was made on Thursday last week by the council’s finance committee, with the money coming from WRC's natural heritage fund. The heritage fund was established to preserve native plants and animals, threatened ecosystems, outstanding landscapes and the natural character of waterways and the coast.

Wilding pine infestations on livestock farms can decrease production. Threatened habitats and species can be displaced by wilding pines and they reduce the amount of water flowing into streams.

Wilding pines can also impact on activities like mountain biking, horse riding and tramping and increase the risk of fire spreading.

The real threat of wilding pine infestations on the Coromandel Peninsula is to coastal cliffs, dunes and regenerating forest. “That’s why it’s so great to see volunteers, like those involved in the RBWG, getting stuck in to protect the natural character of the Coromandel,” said WRC finance committee member and Coromandel constituency councillor, Dal Minogue.

WRC will provide the funding to the RBWG - a subcommittee of the Coromandel Peninsula Coastal Walkways Society - in instalments over a three-year period. The funds will primarily be used to fell wilding pines on a 270ha block of regenerating forest, including 4ha of wetland. An existing trap network for possums, rats, mustelids and cats and will also be expanded.

WRC's finance committee was told by Ian Patrick, the RBWG's secretary, that previous funding from WRC and other organisations had helped them make “some very good progress already."

“We’re doing the wilding pine eradication in a staged way to promote the growth of new plantings, which are providing a good food source for the native birds returning to the area," Ian said. "Our aim is to restore the area to the way it would have been prior to the arrival of pioneers."

Ian also said that, “While a piece of land where wilding pines have been felled will be looking a bit untidy initially, growth of native trees, uninhibited by the lack of sunlight and the pines' absorption of up to 40 per cent of groundwater, is truly dramatic and within two years fallen pines will virtually disappear under the new growth.”

Since the RBWG was formed in 2006, they have received approximately $260,000 in grants and donations from the public and local organisations.

There are native species of conifers - kauri and kahikatea - that dominate rainforests and some shrub land. There are also introduced conifers, which include pines, firs and spruces.

In the right place and when deliberately planted, conifers offer shelter and opportunities for recreation and the generation of income. The term "wilding" in relation to conifers is used when a non-native conifer tree establishes itself by natural means or has not been purposefully planted. Left unchecked, they’ll infest farmland native ecosystems and water catchments. 

Wind-dispersed seed is the most common reason for the spread of wilding conifers. Unplanned and unmanaged wilding trees will grow much faster than native species, thereby restricting sunlight and absorbing much of the available water.

"The members of the RBWG wish to record their gratitude to all our funders for making our progress to date possible. Our aim is to completely eradicate wilding pines from the block of land we look after. The funding boost we've received from WRC last week will go a long way in helping us to achieve our objective."

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