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What are wilding pines?

Wilding pines /conifers is the term used for conifers that are spreading across the landscape through windblown seeds from forestry plantations, homestead’s or shelterbelts into adjoining areas.

Why wilding pines are a problem

According to the Department of Conservation, wilding pines cover more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand and are spreading at an estimated rate of 5% a year. If left uncontrolled the problem will simply get worse over time.

As wilding pines spread across our landscapes they:
• Create a fire risk as they are dense and impenetrable with no road access.
• Can cause acidification of soils which leads to the depletion of some minerals in the soils.
• Use more water, so runoff is decreased which affects streams and associated fauna in the water catchment.
• Provide habitat for exotic pest plants, animals and diseases.
• The fast growth rates of wilding pines allow them to out compete and suppress low-stature native vegetation.
• It is well known that conifer forests have less native fauna, particularly lizards, invertebrates and native bird species than in native forests.


As the project works on multiple aspects with landowners, iwi, volunteers, contractors, scientists, tourism operators and government agencies we are able to coordinate activities to gain efficiencies and accelerate the programme for controlling the wilding pines.

The future

The removal of the wilding pines will allow native forest to recover and provide habitat for native species.

How wilding pines are controlled

  • Controlling wilding pines can be hard and logistically challenging due to access difficulties and steep and isolated hillsides.
  • Seedlings and young trees are either hand-pulled or felled using a pruning saw.
  • Mature trees are generally poisoned by drilling holes into their trunks and injecting a small amount of herbicide into each hole. This method is environmentally friendly as there is no discharge of herbicide to land, waterways, or the air.
  • The controlled trees are left standing and quickly turn brown and lose their needles. Overtime it will become a dead spar that will rot away, with its branches slowly falling to the ground in pieces. This may take up to 15 years for large trees. This leaves the surrounding regenerating native vegetation undisturbed and allows a natural transition from wilding pines to native vegetation.
  • In cases where the trees are close to powerlines, baches, foreshore structures, public roads, and the coastline the trees will need to be controlled by specialist contractors in conjunction with landowners.

Get involved!

The animals and plants of Tōtaranui need your help now!