The 2014 annual meeting of the National Wilding Conifer Management Group was held in conjunction with the North Island Wilding Conifer Group bi-annual meeting at the Scion Campus, Rotorua. Again over 30 people from across the country with a strong contingency from the North Island attended the one day meeting and also joined the fieldtrip that covered wilding conifer areas in the Central North Island. A particular high point was the visit to the Waiouru NZ Army area - not only a "training" ground for the army but for wilding conifer control teams too.
After a short introduction and the Annual General Meeting of the Groups (draft minutes can be found here) at the start of the meeting, the day was filled with information and updates related to wilding conifer management from the regions and affected areas (representatives gave a short overview of their actions) and wilding conifer related research.
Presentations covered the progress of the WCG in Queenstown (click here for the presentation), updates on the work that Horizon is doing and a update on the development of the North Island Initiative -Nature Central-. Brian Richardson General Manager for Forestry Science gave an introduction to Scion and talked about Scions long history in wilding conifer management (early control at Waiouru, click here for the presentation). Kit Richards provided a forest management perspective on forest certification (Forest Stewardship Council) as this requires now the monitoring and management of spread from plantations (click here for presentation). Thomas Paul gave an overview of this years progress on the SFF work (click here) and touched briefly on the possible way forward in regards to mapping of wilding areas on a national scale and how this data could be made available via a LINZ Initiative (David Mole) (click here). Stefan Gous (Scion) and Pete Raal (DoC) gave an update on aerial and ground based control systems and chemicals (click here). Armin Wagner talked about Scion's research in Genetics of pines that might lead someday to the development of trees that do not spread (click here). Veronica Clifford, researcher with the Scion Fire Team, gave a presentation on wildings and fire, understanding the impact of wildings on fire risk in NZ and fire as a potential control tool (click here). Duane Peltzer from Landcare Research had the last word, giving a good overview of their co-invasion work and future directions of their research in the weeds and wildings space (click here).
Overall the workshop was well received and the field-trip provided a good overview of the situation in the Central North Island. Great inroads have been made controlling Lodgepole pine, but still a lot of work needs to be done to reduce wilding "pressure" on landscape and biodiversity values in the Central North Island.