John Oswald has been worried about the spread of wilding pines in Marlborough since the 1960s, something which developed into his true passion in life. It has been a long battle to get the attention of government agencies and funding sources, but now wilding pines are recognised as a spreading plant pest which has increasing negative impacts on local ecosystems, cultural and historic values, tourism, fire risk and even water supply to the wine industry.
Now John chairs The South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust - whose aims are not just minor. Their ambitious plan is to control wilding pines/conifers across a 780,000 hectare area covering the Wither Hills behind Blenheim, south to the Clarence River and the Molesworth. The Trust has already proven their methods and commitment through the successful management of wilding pines in the Awatere Valley over the 2018-2019 season. This will lead on to wider benefits by restoring and protecting the iconic tussock grassland and scenic landscapes of South Marlborough.
The Landscape Trust works closely with local government, has strong involvement with local councillors and landowners. As well, they work closely with NZ Wilding Conifer Management Group a national group which encourages kiwis to “Prevent the Spread”.
John Oswald is presenting a Forest and Bird public talk on the Trust’s work at Blenheim school hall, at 7.30 pm on Thursday September 17. Entry is free but gold coin donation welcome.