"The Ohau Conservation Trust has come into existence to promote awareness of the special values of the high country environment of the Lake Ohau area in South Canterbury and North Otago, to undertake a programme of environmental care and restoration in the area, and to instruct its members and where possible the public at large in such care and restoration.
At the moment the Trust is primarily concerned with the spread of wilding pines (mostly contorta, ponderosa, larch and Douglas Fir), but also with other weeds such as broom and sweet briar over the high country tussock grasslands around Lake Ohau.
The Trust came into existence in late 2004 with the encouragement of the Department of Conservation. DOC assessed local interest in such a group, coordinated its formation, assisted with the gaining of funds and equipment, instructed the members in the use of appropriate implements and chemicals and deployed DOC staff to join in the first few working bees.
The Trust now possesses commercial loppers, hand saws, herbicides, fluorescent jackets, road warning signs and road cones, and a supply of leather and disposable gloves.
Since the Trust’s formation, the small group of about twenty volunteers (of whom only six are permanently resident at Lake Ohau, so that not all volunteers are able to attend every workday)has spent more than 190 hours removing wilding pines, briar and broom from along the roadsides and from Department of Conservation land near Lake Ohau. Pines in particular are a recurring problem while mature seed trees remain, and local landowners are being encouraged to remove these where they are serving no useful purpose. Volunteers regularly walk through cleared areas to remove any new seedlings.
Over the same period, other groups such as the Dunedin Forest & Bird Protection Society’s Wilding Pine Group and the NZ Army have worked in the area removing mature pines on DOC land and on private property, which has been a great encouragement by complementing the Trust’s more modest manual efforts. With Forest & Bird Wilding Pine Group Coordinator David McFarlane’s agreement, it is proposed to join forces with the F & B Group to undertake more extensive pine removal work on private land as time goes by. The Trust can control seedling recurrence in areas cleared by other groups.
Four Trust members have now qualified in Polytechnic Growsafe training courses to learn more about the safe application of herbicides.
The Trust has publicised its aims and work with articles in the Timaru Herald and in the two free local newsheets, the Twizel Update and the Omarama Gazette. As a result, new volunteers have been attracted to join the group, and hopefully the consciousness of other people may have been raised regarding the problems posed by exotic weeds in the high country.
The Trust plans to replant some of the cleared areas with local species such as mountain beech and snow tussock, although no planting has yet been done."