New Zealand’s efforts to control wilding conifers and the resulting economic damage will be thrown into reverse under planned funding cuts, according to advocacy group Wilding Pine Network. In the 2020 Budget, the government committed $100 million over four years to the National Wilding Conifer Control programme to ensure a coordinated and effective approach to tree management. But now it is threatened with a drastic cut – to just $10m a year. Wilding conifers were spreading at a rate of about 90,000ha a year nationally and after eight years the money spent so far has been remarkably effective in getting rid of the noxious tree … Wilding Pine Network chair Richard Bowman says without funding we are not able to maintain or make gains. He says hundreds of thousands of hectares of extremely vulnerable high country in Otago, Canterbury and Marlborough have had scattered trees removed and these areas are now effectively protected from further spread and infill.