More than 400 wilding pines and rogue Japanese cedars threatening the Puketi Omahuta Forest are to be cut down and sold as Christmas trees, raising funds for local community groups.
And the Bay of Islands Weedbusters group, which came up with the idea, hopes the trees will sell like hotcakes to both locals and holidaymakers looking for a Christmas tree for their homes and baches.
Department of Conservation spokesman, Dan O’Halloran, said the trees were all weeds, self-sown from plantations cut about five years ago.
“They threaten the native regeneration in the Mangapukahukahu block, an area right in the heart of the Puketi Omahuta Forest, once logged for kauri,” Mr O’Halloran said.
“After attempts at farming, the area was planted in pine trees and became known as Murray’s Pines. And when logging was completed in the late 1990’s, the area was left to regenerate.
“It has now become a home to an amazing biodiversity of plants and creatures that live in the Puketi Omahuta,” Mr O’Halloran said.
“Once these wilding pines are removed, the thickness of the native regeneration should prevent the growth of further pine seedlings.”
“We are also offering some Japanese cedars, another ‘weed’ in our local forests, to test market demand.”
Mr O’Halloran said the trees are good sizes for Christmas trees, and would be sold throughout the Bay of Islands by local environmental groups between 16-22 December as a fundraiser.
The groups being supported by the venture include Junior Kaitiaki Rangers in Kaeo and Kaikohe, the Russell Landcare Trust, DOC Shadehouse Volunteers at Kerikeri, and the Hi Iwi Kotahi Katou Trust Environmental Studies Group in Moerewa.
Further information can be found on the Weedbusters Near You, Northland pages of this website.