Some recent information about Mid Dome Charitable Trust

The Trust.
The Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust was formed in 2006 with the principal objective of promoting and protecting productive, landscape, biodiversity and other values in New Zealand’s tussock lands – particularly at Mid Dome. 
A major reason for the Trust’s formation was to facilitate fund raising, as it is estimated that around $9m will be needed over a 12 year period to remove wilding conifers permanently from Mid Dome and surrounding land.  To date, the Trust has received indicative funding commitments for just over $4m from Land Information New Zealand, the Department of Conservation (DoC), the Ministry for the Environment and the local regional council, Environment Southland (ES).  The Trust has prepared a Memorandum of Understanding to secure the on-going support of all the above parties for the 12 year programme, with DoC acting as project manager, and ES providing the administrative support.  The Trust is chaired by local Environment Southland Councillor, Ali Timms.  Fellow Trustees are Dunedin scientist, Alan Mark; Invercargill based consultant, Alison Broad, Wanaka high country farmer, John Aspinall and local land owner, Woodford Rouse.  A major coup for the Trust has been to appoint as Patron the internationally-known New Zealand actor, Sam Neill.  Sam is known for his keen interest in environmental issues, especially in inland Otago and Southland.  In its just-completed first year of operation, the Trust has cleared over 3,000 ha of wildings, and in a couple of months will begin its second season, for which $915,000 has been budgetted to treat almost 50,000 affected hectares.  The Trust is setting an excellent example of how communities can recognise large local wilding problems (and this is a huge one), and form themselves into effective bodies capable of attracting considerable funds to get the job done.   For more information have a look at the Trust's latest Newsletter (link not available yet) and/or make contact through Environment Southland by calling toll-free 0800768845 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

History of wilding spread on Mid Dome

Wild_MidDomesmJPG.jpg
Mid Dome from the west, showing the main planted areas, from which wildings are spreading down-wind to the eastern side of the mountain (see other photo).  The planting was carried out from 1951-1975 to prevent erosion debris from being carried down onto a highway and railway (now removed), running below these western faces.

Mid Dome is located in northern Southland, some 100 km north of Invercargill on the highway to Queenstown (SH 6).  Plantings of trees at this site for erosion control represent the oldest systematic rehabilitative work involving reforestation in Southland, and possibly in New Zealand.  The rationale for the land being taken out of grazing (1947) and for revegetation being initiated (1951), was that the area was suffering from severe erosion, and was ‘unsuited to farming’ after many decades of grazing and vegetation burning.  In addition, shingle fans from Mid Dome posed a threat to SH 6 and a railway line (now no longer existing).  By the time the major planting had ceased in the mid 1970s, around 250 ha had been planted, initially with contorta pine (Pinus contorta) and later with dwarf mountain pine (P. mugo).

The spread of introduced conifers from the Mid Dome revegetation plantings onto surrounding farm land, some of which is now managed by DoC, has caused concern since the early 1960s  (when, ironically, assurances were given at public meetings that the spread of pines could be easily controlled).  It is now estimated that over 80,000 ha is affected by wildings (99% contorta pine), although their density is very low over much of this area.  Since the 1960s, a number of wilding inspections have been made, reports written and control plans drafted.  Serious control efforts within the revegetated area started in 1978, with smaller numbers of trees removed from surrounding farm land around 1990.  Regular removals were initiated in the summer of 1998/99, and have been on-going and increasing ever since.  

Wild_MidDomebacksm.jpg
 The view from the main Mid Dome ridge looking east into Dome Creek - Department of Conservation land which is being rapidly invaded by wilding contorta pine.  Distant spread from this exposed ‘seed take-off’ site has also given rise to a scattering of outlier trees, some of which have established many kilometres away on the far distant hills.