9 Apr 2015

Fighting wilding pines with fire

6:45 am on 9 April 2015

Fires will be lit in the MacKenzie Basin this month to see if wilding conifers, spreading through the region, can be controlled by burning.

A fire scientist with the forestry research institute Scion, Grant Pearce, said new methods of fighting fires in areas with wilding conifers would also be examined.

Wilding pines in Canterbury.

Wilding pines in Canterbury. Photo: Wikicommons

"Fires that burn in these wilding conifers burn at fast rates and spread and can be difficult to control. We also know that our existing suite of fire behaviour models don't work very well in those particular fuel types," he said.

He said fires, if done safely and effectively, can be a cheap land management option compared with using chemicals sprayed from aircraft.

"It might be that there is some combination of fire with chemicals, or fire on its own, that can be used as a successful tool for wilding spread."

Mr Pearce said single wilding conifers as well as stands of the trees would be set alight in the experiment.

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