A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says.
The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant species are currently at risk of being lost due to the invasive pine forest in the area. The wilding conifer control work proposed in this project will restore the specialised ecosystems on unique mineral-rich rock types,” Mr. O’Connor says.
Led by Tasman District Council, the $620,000 project is an extension of the $1.3 million Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) funding for Mt Richmond Forest Park Wilding Conifer control this year. The funding will create employment opportunities for an additional eight full time equivalent employees and training opportunities spread over a three-year period.
Employees will perform wilding conifer control throughout the Mt Richmond Forest Park and some adjoining privately owned and Marlborough and Nelson council lands (approx. 28,000 ha). “This project creates employment opportunities specifically for local tourism workers whose jobs have been lost with the almost complete cessation of international tourism,” and also complements some silvicultural workers in the Tasman region,” Mr. O’Connor says.
The original proposal for MPI had been scoped prior to COVID-19 and was largely planned for helicopters to undertake aerial work and ground crews. However this investment, through the Department of Conservation’s Jobs for Nature funding may allow ground control teams to substitute for some of the aerial work to better target smaller trees and seedlings.
The Government’s Jobs for Nature programme is a $1.245 billion investment in the creation of 11,000 nature-based jobs. As a part of this programme the Department of Conservation will allocate $500 million to projects that will create 6,000 nature-based jobs over a four-year period.
The Mt Richmond wilding conifer ground control was identified as a priority for Jobs for Nature funding by Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance, a top of the South Island alliance of iwi, councils and DOC that is working collaboratively to enhance resilience in natural landscapes and communities across the region.
The MPI and DOC Jobs for Nature funding for wilding conifer control work supports a wider programme of wilding conifer control in the Richmond Ranges led by the Mount Richmond Forest Park Stakeholder Group. The group is comprised of forestry companies One Forty One Plantations Ltd, Tasman Pine Forest Ltd and PH Olsens Ltd, Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman councils, DOC, iwi, private landowners and community groups.