Wilding pine control transforming the Marlborough Sounds

The Marlborough Sounds is one step closer to regaining its natural landscape.

The Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust has been working over the last decade to manage an infestation of wilding pines, which destroy native bush and negatively impact biodiversity.

A grant from Rātā Foundation will allow the Trust to forge ahead with the next part of the project, which will be carried out over the next three years around Maraetai Bay.

Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust coordinator Siobain Browning says the project is about forty per cent of the way through.

“When the Trust was set up, they started dividing the Sounds up into management sectors, and each sector has a detailed plan prepared for it as to how it is going to be controlled,” she said.

“Now we are nearing the halfway mark and it has already made such a big difference.”

She said the project not only had made a difference to the landscape, but also within the Sounds community.

“It has brought the community together for a common cause. At first people were skeptical, but now that they’ve seen how other bays have changed because of the wilding pine control, we’ve actually got communities contacting us to help in their area – and that’s exactly what has happened with Maraetai Bay.”

One of the biggest challenges was accessibility, said Ms Browning.

“Working in the Sounds, access and the terrain is a problem, which is why we rely so heavily on paid contractors to do the work. You need these really skilled, tough guys who are able to work in the remotest areas for days on end doing the control work.”

“That’s why we need ongoing financial support so we can continue our work.”

The wilding pines control project also received support from the Department of Conservation and Marlborough District Council.