GPS used to eradicate Wilding Pines

  • 06/10/2010

By Charlotte Tonkin

Satellite technology is being credited for the success of a pest eradication project in the Marlborough Sounds.

Handheld GPS units are giving hunters the edge in the war on the Wilding Pines.

The picturesque landscape of the Marlborough Sounds is enjoyed by thousands every year.

Amongst the treats, GPS is being used to save it from one tree which is overrunning native species.

“It’s made a huge difference to the productivity,” says Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust chairman Andrew Macalister.

“The guys on the hill are doing the work at least 50 percent faster with the technology.”

The trust is tracking down Wilding Pines to be poisoned.

Trees are mapped from aerial photographs onto the handheld GPS units.

“So, the contractors can find a tree, even if they can’t see it,” says Mr Macalister.

In the past two years, tens of thousands of trees have been treated with herbicide, in an attempt to eradicate the pests from Queen Charlotte Sound.

The project has been so successful, similar programmes are being planned for D’Urville Island, Kenpuru Sound and Abel Tasman National Park.

The ridgelines are evidence it’s working and highlight the often inhospitable terrain the pines grow on.

Around 60 percent of the trees are on Department Of Conservation land. But it’s been the community which has largely funded and driven the project.

Land owners provide their holiday houses for contractors to stay in and local businesses offer free transport to keep costs down.

Because DOC has only given $35,000 to a project that costs half a million.

“Although we recognise they are an issue and others have, nationally they didn’t stack up,” says DOC spokesman Phillip Clerke.

For Mr Macalister, nor does letting the pines eclipse all that native species need.

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source: newshub archive