Background
The idea to form a Wilding Conifer Management Group and to seek funds from the SFF originated in late 2005 with Jim Ward (Manager, Molesworth Station) and the station owners, Landcorp Farming (represented by their Corporate Strategy Manager, Collier Isaacs).  Collier requested Nick Ledgard, a scientist with Scion (formerly Forest Research) in Christchurch, to approach all those with wilding concerns and to draw up a proposal for the SFF.  
An inaugural meeting of interested people took place in Christchurch on April 28, 2006.  Eleven representatives of the major stakeholders attended, with all supporting the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) proposal and keen to become founding members of the affiliated group.  A full application for funding was sent to the SFF in May, 2006, and approved two months later in July.

The project formerly started on July 2006 and ended in 2010.

Our aims

The Project aimed to promote and improve the understanding of wilding conifer spread ecology and basic control strategies.  It had three core objectives:
1.    Improving the assessment of wilding conifer spread risk, and the prioritisation of control operations.  The major output will be via GIS maps.
2.    Determining the most appropriate and cost-effective techniques for removing wildings and killing standing conifers - a major output was a handbook of the most user-friendly, safe and cost-effective operational control methods.
3.    Determining vegetation successions after wilding invasion and control, so that they can be manipulated towards the most desired vegetation cover (often native species).  

The Project aimed to promote and improve the understanding of wilding conifer spread ecology and basic control strategies.  It had three core objectives:

Objective 1:  Improving assessment of wilding spread risk and prioritisation of control operations.

Milestone 1 Produce a listing of wilding conifer data bases, maps and other information by contacting / visiting all South Island wilding conifer data base holders (mainly DOC, Regional and District Councils) in Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.  Also identify current control programmes and major areas where assistance needed.     February, 2007  

Milestone 2  Mapping (GIS) all major S. Island wilding conifer spread areas, plus their attributes, from existing data bases. Where key information missing, field sites visited to collect appropriate data.    June 2007

Milestone 3  Complete construction and validation of decision support system (DSS) which can assess wilding spread risk on any given site.    December  2007

Milestone 4  Produce maps displaying spread risk and control prioritisation, for all major S. Island wilding conifer spread areas, by linking DSS to GIS map.    June 2008

Milestone 5  Production and delivery of maps for individual high country properties in spread susceptible areas, with operational recommendations and costs for long-term control.    June, 2009

Objective 2: Determining the most cost-effective techniques for removing wildings and killing standing conifers.

Milestone 1  Review current wilding control techniques and costs, plus auditing and monitoring protocols, taking into account increasing concern about use of chemicals.  Summarise in newsletter/website and make a full report available in hardcopy and pdf on website.    June  2007

Milestone 2  Establish one stem poisoning site in the Marlborough Sounds to determine safest and most cost-effective techniques for killing standing conifers.  Initiate research on new spray formulations for controlling Douglas-fir wildings.    December  2007

Milestone 3  Summarise results of stem poisoning trial (newsletter/web site) and make full report available.  Report on progress with new spray formulations for controlling Douglas-fir wildings - being aware of discussions on restrictions (via Forest Stewardship Council and proposed National Environmental Standards) on use of chemicals in forests.     December  2008

Milestone 4  Operational control manual published and disseminated to end users.    June  2009

Milestone 5  Summarise knowledge gaps in the area of wilding control, together with means of filling them (newsletter/website) and make full report available.    June  2009

Objective 3:  Manipulating vegetation successions after wilding invasion and control

Milestone 1  Review literature on native successions associated with wildings and planted conifer stands, before and after control.  Summarise in newsletter/website and make full report available in hardcopy and pdf on website.    June 2007

Milestone 2  Assessment of 1975 trial, following vegetation successions occurring during and after invasion by contorta pine. Summarise results (newsletter/web site) and make full report available.    June 2007

Milestone 3  Complete field assessment and report on vegetation successions occurring after wilding control / removal.  Summarise results (newsletter/web site) and make full report available.    June 2008

Milestone 4  Determine knowledge gaps on desired vegetation successions associated with wilding management.  Summarise information (newsletter/web site) and make full report available.  Subject to on-going support, install 5 trials aimed at filling these gaps.    June  2009 
 

Information Transfer 

This was a very important part of the SFF WildingProject.  Information transfer was via:

*  This website

*  An annual newsletter

*  Media articles

*  Presentations to appropriate groups and agencies

*  Workshops and field-days