It is almost five years since the previous owner of Tane's Rest clear felled the first generation of pine trees and dragged their logs to the end of the driveway for loading onto trucks.
As a result, pine cones were spread about and the seeds they contained have now germinated and grown into a patchy distribution of wilding pines each one to two metres tall. During our Easter visit we felled all of these wildings and dragged them to piles that we will burn later in the winter.
The pernicious and invasive nature of wildling pines is well illustrated on our front boundary where the road curves around the end of the ridge line forming our northern boundary. Here the steep cutting has gradually been revegetated by kanuka to form a micro forest that is about 40m long but only 5m wide. The kanuka now has a developing understorey of native shrubs and plants that have established from seed carried by birds that have used the kanuka as a roost site.
The wind has also carried pine seeds in amongst the kanuka and these have also happily germinated and grown.
While looking how we might reinstate the fence line along this part of the boundary we spotted the pines so returned with a saw to remove them. To our surprise this small strip of canopy kanuka was supporting eight pine trees the largest of which was 8 metres tall with a trunk over 100mm in diameter. Left alone these trees would have completely dominated the kanuka and would have become a nightmare to remove with the road below them.
Wilding pines are a huge ecological problem in the South Island and also in the tussock lands of the central North Island. They are a problem that stems from the industrial scale of growing production pine forests and are a form of pollution that should be made the responsibility of the polluter. Perhaps with modern breeding and tissue culture we could create a sterile pine tree that produces wood but not seed.
We also have a growing wilding pine problem in our native forest that must be addressed, but that is another story. While we recognise the benefits of having pines growing on our steep slopes we also recognise the problems they can cause so we have resolved to cut out any pine tree that might impact native conservation values.
At Tane's Rest pines have their place and will be keep in their place.
This blog is the ongoing story of our piece of paradise on the East Cape we have named Tāne's Rest. Visit our About pages to read more about our project, and feel free to leave a comment on any of our posts.
Uawa County existed for 45 years from 1 December 1918 to 1 April 1964 before merging with Cook County. Click on the map to download a copy.