Who Are We?

The Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group Inc (WCG) is a community, not-for-profit organisation created in April 2009. We are focused on protecting biodiversity and the remarkable landscape of the Wakatipu for the benefit of residents, users, tourists and particularly, future generations. The WCG aim is to control wilding trees. Queenstown is renowned worldwide for its stunning and iconic landscapes, but they are under threat from wilding trees. Wilding conifers threaten and replace native beech forests and tussock.

How we do it

Alert – The community to the exponential spread and cost of wilding control.
Communicate – The WCG programme of control and projected effects of no control.
Eradicate – ALL seeding trees where possible.
Contain – Non-removable wilding areas and planted forests.
Hand Back – Control maintenance to landowners. DOC and QLDC at the end of the WCG five year strategy periods.

Our Vision is the Protection
and Enhancement of:

Landscape & Aesthetic Values – Views of beautiful golden tussock & glacial landscapes are under threat.

Conservation Values – The loss of flora and fauna that is unique to the Otago region.

Land Use Values – Timber in most wildings has little economic use and a closed conifer shades out grazing species.

Hydrological Values – Closed canopy lowers water yield into rivers/catchments due to canopy interception and evaporation.

Recreational Values – Such as tramping, walking, running and cycling are disturbed.

Volunteer

If you or a group of people are interested in doing conifer control work then get in touch by clicking here.  We organise regular Volunteer Days but are happy to help get you involved and have the tools necessary to get chopping!

Join Us

adopt-a-plot

The WCG have a new volunteer program called ‘Adopt a Plot’, this represents a new approach to the problem.

Rather than a few volunteers looking after a large area, the program seeks to engage with many people who can provide intensive control of smaller areas.

Under this scheme, businesses, community groups, schools, and family groups will adopt a specific area of the basin. Each group will be responsible for hand clearing their plot of seedlings and then maintaining the area to prevent regrowth. The WCG will help interested parties select a suitable plot and then provide ongoing support including training, advice and loan of tools and equipment.

 

More Info        Get Started

The Team

Peter WillsmanPeter Willsman
Founding Chairman of the Wakatipu Wilding Control Group, Peter arrived from the UK as a 15 year and now resides in Kelvin Heights.
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Peter WillsmanPeter Willsman
Founding Chairman of the Wakatipu Wilding Control Group, Peter was originally from the UK. Arriving in New Zealand as a 15 year old he gained a Diploma in Farming. His early career involved sheep and beef farming. His academic years involved study at Laidlaw College, gaining a degree at Otago University and then Knox College. Non study opportunities included time to ski, tramp and climb peaks such as Mt Aspiring and Mt Cook. With 31 years in challenging parish ministry in Mataura and East Taieri, Peter also built his own house at Kelvin Heights where Peter and Beryl now reside  
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Grant HensmanGrant Hensman
As co-chair of WCG, Grant is passionate about educating people on the threat wilding conifers pose to the environment.
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Grant HensmanGrant Hensman
Queenstown born and raised, Grant Hensman has a long-standing connection to the Wakatipu wilding conifer control cause. Grant is the son of Skyline Enterprises founder Hylton Hensman, and has spent much of his life involved with Skyline Queenstown operations - while witnessing the dramatic change to the landscape caused by wilding conifers over the years.

Starting out washing dishes in Skyline’s restaurant as a youngster, Grant has previously managed gondola maintenance before leading the company’s national and international luge project development. He has been a director of the board since 1994.

Aside from witnessing the threat to native flora on Bob’s Peak, Grant has watched the scenery get “smothered” by wilding pines in Skippers Canyon, where he owns a holiday bach.

As co-chair of WCG, Grant is passionate about educating people on the threat wilding conifers pose to the environment. While acknowledging that it can be a controversial topic, Grant wants to focus on increased lobbying to central government – to highlight this as a national issue, not just a local problem.

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Dick HubbardDick Hubbard
Dick joined the WCG in July, 2015 and now looks after communications and PR for the WCG.
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Dick HubbardDick Hubbard

Dick joined the WCG in July, 2015 and now looks after communications and PR for the WCG. He is Chairman - Hubbard Foods Ltd and has been known to make a few breakfast cereals!

He now lives (very happily) in Queenstown. Dick says “I am very keen on environmental matters and the Wilding Pine problem personally is a very interesting (and important) one. What I like about it is the fact that it is a problem that can definitely be beaten with the right expertise and money.

However we are very close to the "Tipping Point" and therefore if a concerted effort is not made now the whole battle could be lost and lost forever within 10 years.

I am very interested in the outdoors and have been a keen tramper and mountain climber. However these days the biggest mountain I climb is Queenstown Hill!”


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Grant MclennanGrant Mclennan
Grant is a Queenstown business consultant with a passion for New Zealand’s wild and has 40 years of tramping, climbing and skiing experince.
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Grant MclennanGrant Mclennan

Grant is a Queenstown based business consultant. He has a passion for New Zealand’s wild places based on 40 years of tramping, climbing and skiing.

His interest in wilding trees grew out of the rampant destruction that is clearly evident in the mountains surrounding Queenstown. “I couldn’t stand by and let this happen, I had to get involved”.


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Grant McMasterGrant McMaster
Grant has been the General Manager of Closeburn Station for the past 11 years.
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Grant McMasterGrant McMaster

Grant is the General Manager, Closeburn Station and has held this position for the past 11 years.

His academic qualifications gained include a NZ Trade Certificate Farm Management and Advanced National Certificate in Agriculture, specialising in farm and grassland management – Berkshire College, England. And his interests range from dog trials, rugby, travelling, horse racing.


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Geoff OwenGeoff Owen
Former police officer Geoff is the Operations Manager, Wakatipu - Pou Matarautaki, Wakatipu.
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Geoff OwenGeoff Owen

Geoff is the Operations Manager, Wakatipu - Pou Matarautaki, Wakatipu.

A former police officer, Geoff joined the Department of Conservation in July 2012 as National Compliance & Liaison Manager based in Wellington. Geoff came to the role of Operations Manager in December 2015, and has oversight of all of the Department's operations delivery in the Wakatipu Basin.

Prior to the Department Geoff worked in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Forensic Services Wellington practice and before there, a number of other New Zealand Government agencies. His first role out of Police was as head of corporate security for insurer AMP Society’s New Zealand operations.

Geoff has a Masters in Business Administration from Victoria University, Wellington.

Of Taranaki Iwi descent, born in Hawera, has moved south after 40 years working in the capital.

For Geoff, his Norwegian partner and their three children, tramping, biking, kayaking, Nordic skiing, feature high on their recreational pursuits.


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Tom McPhailTom McPhail
Tom is a member of the WCG Executive group. After a life of farming in Southland he retired to Frankton in 2012.
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Tom McPhailTom McPhail

Tom is a member of the WCG Executive group. After a life of farming in Southland he retired to Frankton in 2012. 

In the wilding control efforts and Tom was asked last year to come on to the executive to help with establishing the Adopt a Plot program.

He has holidayed at Frankton since the mid 1950's and love the lake and mountain scenery. Tom enjoys the outdoors skiing ,boating, 4WD'ing, tramping and cutting down wildings!


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Briana PringleBriana Pringle
Briana is the Parks and Reserves Officer at Queenstown Lakes District Council, Manager of the WCG.
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Briana PringleBriana Pringle

Briana is the Parks and Reserves Officer at Queenstown Lakes District Council, Manager of the WCG.

With a Bachelor of Forestry Science (BForSc) from  Canterbury University. She has worked for Forestry Companies in Central North Island, before heading back to the mainland!

Based in Queenstown over 8 years her interests include walking/hiking in and around Queenstown, boating, camping and biking.


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Jamie CowanJamie Cowan
Jamie is the Operational Advisor with 8 years wilding pine control with a very strong background in agrichemical use and helicopter management...
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Jamie CowanJamie Cowan
Jamie is the Operational Advisor with 8 years wilding pine control with a very strong background in agrichemical use and helicopter management. And, he is also Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer, Otago Rural Fire Authority. His experience here includes 10 years of rural fire fighting and management. 5 international Deployments to Australia and North America in the past 5 years, Member of the National Rural Fire Authorities National Incident Management and Rural Fire Response Teams with 3 National Deployments in the past 18 months. NZ Certificate Fire and Rescue (vegetation) level 4. Level 2 Fire investigator and certified Thermographer (thermal camera operator). Based in Queenstown for 13 years Jamie enjoys hunting, fishing, long range shooting and attempting to be an average father and husband!
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Jessica ThomsonJessica Thomson
Jessica is the Assistant Parks Officer, QLDC...
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Jessica ThomsonJessica Thomson
Jessica is the Assistant Parks Officer, QLDC. She studied Environmental Management and Ecology at the University of Otago and has recently joined the WCG team. Born and raised in the Queenstown area with a passion for the environment. Her interests include fishing, horses and general outdoor activities.
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Martin HawesMartin Hawes
Martin is an authorised financial adviser
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Martin HawesMartin Hawes
Martin is an authorised financial adviser and has written over 20 books on personal finance and is a columnist for the Sunday star times. He is a trustee for the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing trust and director of both Lifetime income LTD and Whai Rawa. Martin has lived in Queenstown for nearly 20 years and in his spare time he is a keen mountaineer and climber.  
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News and events

Our Sponsors

logo-queenstown-lake-district-councillogo-skyline-queenstownlogo-central-lakes-trustlogo-skycitylogo-heli-tourslogo-lottery-grants-board

WCG Funding Partners

Queenstown Lakes District Council • Skyline EnterprisesCentral Lakes TrustLotteries Grant Board Environment and Heritage fund QLDCDepartment of ConservationLINZHelitoursNZTA • Cecil Peak Station • Mt Nicholas Station • Closeburn Station • Elfin Bay Station • Ben Lomond Station • Queenstown Hill Station • Coronet Peak Station • Waitiri Station • Halfway Bay Station • Mt Difficulty Station • Remarkables Station • Loch Linnhe Station • Cone Peak Station • Lowburn Station • Pioneer GenerationSouthland Building • Scope Enterprises

National Wilding Conifer Management Group

For access to the National Wilding Conifer Management Strategy 2015-2030, the Wilding Risk Calculator and updates on national news and events, click on the link below.

www.wildingconifers.org.nz

FAQ

Who are the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG)?
The WCG is a community organisation created in April 2009; we are a charitable ‘not- for-profit’ organisation.  The WCG are focused on protecting the resplendent biodiversity and remarkable landscape of the Wakatipu, for the benefit of residents, users, tourists and particularly future generations.
What are they doing?
The WCG is in a dynamic partnership with QLDC, DOC, LINZ, supporting Trust, volunteers, Landowners and Managers with enthusiastic community and business support in controlling the rampant wilding spread.
How is the program funded?
This programme is being funded by a wide range of  partners.  This includes Queenstown Lakes District Council, the Department of Conservation, Skyline Enterprise, The Central Lakes Trust, The Lotteries Commission and Land Information New Zealand and concerned landowners/managers.
How are the pines controlled?
The pines are controlled using a wide range of tools, from ground crews with Loppers and saws to targeted aerial spot spraying or boom spraying.  Queenstown has variable wilding sites, the spread, topography and species are unique to each area and therefore a ‘one tool’ fits all approach is not suitable.  Each site is assessed to determine the most cost effective tool. WCG uses the latest research, chemical and application rates and works with research agencies in developing and trialling chemicals and rates.
How safe are the control operations?
The WCG always uses best practise and takes every precaution to ensure wilding pine control operations are carried out safely.  All operations comply with the Otago Regional Council Air plan and all herbicides used in wilding operations are commonly used in agriculture on broom and gorse, and all aerial operations will be publically notified.
Will native plants and animals be affected?
In aerial operations it is always possible that some native plants could be damaged, particularly woody species such as Matagouri that grow on the fringes of sprayed areas.   Damage to tussock is expected to be minimal.  The long term impact of wilding forests is much greater than any inadvertent effect on native vegetation.  If we do not remove the pines then all native vegetation is eliminated as it will be displaced by the conifers.
How long before wilding pines die?
Sprayed trees will take up to two years to die off.  Just how long the dead pines will remain standing will vary depending on rainfall, humidity, the amount of sunshine etc.  Treated pines tend to ‘melt’ rather than just fall over. First the needles, then the limbs, then the top section and so on. The visual appearance of the hillside will steadily improve as native vegetation takes hold.  Most importantly this means that vast tracts of surrounding high country areas have been protected and they will retain their high country charm.
Can the pines be used, rather than just being killed?
Pines will be used for production forestry when this is economical.  However only a small percentage of logs from the larger wilding pines are usable for timber.  In some cases the time and resources needed to extract the Wilding pines for logging or firewood outweighs the commercial return of the timber produced.
What will happen after the five year strategy?
Because not all trees are being removed, there will be on-going maintenance, but this project is a big push that will bring the maintenance back to much more manageable levels.  At the end of the five year strategy eradication, all areas will be handed back to the landowners and agencies responsible for Reserves. Goals will be developed with individual land lessee/owners which include the influence of stocking and de-stocking in controlling seedling wildings.
What Pines are spreading in the Wakatipu?
In the Wakapitu the following species have wilding spread: Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) Contorta or lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) Scots pine (Pinus sylestris) European larch (Larix decidua) Corsican pine (Pinus nigra) Bishops Pine (Pinus muricate) Ponderosa Pine (Pinus Ponderosa) Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo) Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster)  

Please get in touch with any questions we haven’t been able to answer by filling out the form below

Contact Us

We would love to hear from you. To get in touch, please fill in the form to the right with your details  and message and click submit.