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What if we let the wilding pines grow?

Written By: - Date published: 1:03 pm, August 7th, 2019 - 129 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, Environment, uncategorized - Tags: ,

A conversation in Daily Review last night about transitioning marginal farmland away from stock prompted this post about the values of wilding pines.

This is a 20 year difference:

Photo by Grahame Sydney


Robert Guyton made these points,

… the way ahead is forward into trees, not back into livestock. Pinus radiate and its brutal management is the worst of choices and doesn’t represent the model I’m promoting, but neither does livestock farming. Foresters have a long way to go to up-grade their practices to something appropriate for the situation we find ourselves in now, but at least they are planting trees; moving them from monocultural thinking to multi-faceted, forest-based thinking will be aided by circumstance, in my view; the climate and the change in thinking resulting from that will force changes rapidly and that’s what I’m banking on and that’s why I cheer-on the planting of trees. Wilding pines reclaiming high country sheep stations is a good example of marginal land being turned into forestry, wouldn’t you say?

Robert then laid down a challenge,

Wilding pines are not useful in the conventional sense; they don’t produce straight timber for a start, but we are not thinking deeply or strategically enough about them. If we regard them as an enemy that has to be destroyed, we will lose the battle we’ve set ourselves. Better to harness the irrepressible force that they are and use them for our benefit, somehow. It’s that “somehow” we have to explore.

… I’m suggesting taking a different approach and looking at all the “weeds” of the world, not as enemies, but as allies. It’s not immediately apparent how this would work, in specific situations such as wilding pines, but that’s because we haven’t applied our clever minds to the problem using that lens; we’ve just stuck with the “bash our way through” mentality and that’s left much of the world bashed-up.

How about we have a go at applying our clever minds and deeper thinking. Comments welcome below in a similar vein. Here are mine.

A couple of uses for wilding pines that I can see. One is firewood. We already have some initiatives to use wilding pines for industrial fuel, as a more integrated solution. It’s certainly an improvement on the current slash and burn approach. But it’s unlikely to improved the local ecosystem because one of the drivers is to keep certain landscapes bare and iconic. End use biofuels have GHG emissions. Chipping for biofuel is an industrial solution to a problem created by an industrial mindset.

Instead we can take our cues from nature. Conifers have a strong capacity to be productive, and they are adaptive to landscapes that humans are having trouble growing things and where natives species are struggling to re-establish themselves. Pines are already there, giving a substantial headstart over humans planting seedlings themselves. Pines are better at selecting where to grow in order to survive.

An alternative to chipping/biofuel would be allowing wilding pines to create forests and then sustainably log them for firewood for locals. With the right management it would be possible to make this carbon neutral or even a carbon sink. Instead of seeing the pines as a problem that is isolated from their environment, we can see a reforesting solution with the pines integrated into a system of localised climate response. We need more trees, we need to restore landscapes and protect biodiversity. We need fuel for warm shelter, hot water, cooked food. We need climate resiliency for wind and drought events and so on. All those things in one design.

The other, related use then, is to use the power of wilding pines as a way to regenerate to other, mixed species. There are other plants that will share space with Pinus so long as the trees have enough space between them eg by selective logging for firewood. What that mixed forest then gets ‘used’ for would depend on the geography and local needs. We could for instance be reforesting this way for its own sake, for food, for recreational spaces. The above idea about firewood too.

Pine isn’t the greatest of firewoods, but we don’t have to burn it forever, because now we have changed the local ecosystem so it is easier to grow trees that are better suited to the task. A polyculture forestry profession arises. It’s easy to see how the above ideas would create jobs and support local economies. Lots of wins.

There’s a couple of issues here that make that difficult. One is the attachment to iconic high country landscapes. I think the solution to that is to choose as many of those landscapes as we need to and that are appropriate, put a philosophical and management boundary around them, and put resources into returning them to native spaces. This will alleviate the discomfit that many feel in letting pines grow everywhere.

The other is that New Zealanders have a love/hate relationship with Pinus species. We grow a lot of them, build our houses out of them, but hate them when they exhibit their natural piney-ness by expanding their range and by being allelopathic and preventing other things from growing. But our view of pines is skewed by our history of growing them in monocrops. What we need now is living examples of mixed forest where pines have a place but aren’t dominant.

There are lots of challenges to what I am suggesting. How to stop the spread of pines and other wilding species into native systems. How to manage different geographies with regards to climate, weather and terrain. But these problems become easier once we start working with nature instead of against her.

129 comments on “What if we let the wilding pines grow? ”

  1. McFlock 1

    An interesting use might be production of pine tar and charcoal. The pine tar is a bunch of hydrocarbons that could be a non-fossil source for plastics or fuels (depending on volume of production), and the charcoal can be a fuel or used in filters and suchlike.

    All depending on per-tree scale, of course. Charcoal not a problem, but no idea on tar outputs from the above ground bit of the tree (as opposed to the tar-dense roots).

    • weka 1.1

      I bet the Europeans know a few things about tar and charcoal from conifers. One of the issues is the distance from wilding pine areas to industry. I'd be interested to know how feasible it would be to localise production.

      • McFlock 1.1.1

        Scandinavia especially.

        Thing is, if they're not needed for logs then it seems to me they can be chipped/shredded almost onsite and put into containers to go to wherever they're processed. Some sort of itinerant facility like a cross between a garden woodchipper and a combine harvester.

        Heck, the wood chips could provide methane to drive the trucks to take the chips to their destination lol

        • weka

          Harvesting to clear land maybe. Selective harvest out of regenerating forest is a different thing. This was the point about looking at nature-based solutions rather than industrial ones. Also to limit the GHGs from transport. I think it will vary hugely. Some areas will be suitable for industrial schemes, but there's still the issue of land and biodiversity degradation with that.

          • McFlock

            Not sure industrial necessarily means clearfelling. There are selective harvesters for high value logs that use helicopters for extraction, as a high-cost example.

            But it definitely requires a change in perspective from 20C industrialisation.

            • weka

              yep. I was thinking lower tech and more local, but not a scenario where no industrial tech is used at all. Not a fan of helicopters as a long term solution but we could make use of them while they're easily available. We should be planning lower tech though, post-carbon and more resilient systems.

              • McFlock

                There are some really interesting forestry tools aroung – basically robots on a ditch-digger chassis with a driver, where you select the tree, the robot clamps onto it, chops it down into set lengths, and strips the branches all in about a minute or less.

                So some sort of machine like that but that can go into more difficult and tight terrain with less of an impact (e.g. trackmarks and crushed foliage) might be possible. and safer for forestry operators.

                I think we're getting to the stage where higher tech can mean lower impact. Things like Boston Dynamics' "big dog" come to mind as a low-impact (sort of mule-level) but high tech option. And the only reason that project got cancelled was because the yanks wanted to take it into combat and it was too noisy.

                But a mule train of "big dogs" between the tree-chopperchipper and the access point a couple of km away might be a low impact way to harvest the forests without so many twisted ankles or fatalities.

                • weka

                  I don't disagree about appropriate tech, but holy shit just tried to watch a video of Boston Dynamics' "big dog" and the noise, aarggg. Solve that problem and it might be a goer.

          • Norman Grey

            Anything Robert Guyton sa

  2. Francesca 2

    Pines won't spread in to healthy native forest , they're not shade tolerant

    They thrive on disturbed and impoverished soils and can be pioneer species, beginning the process of soil restoration

    They 'll take a lot longer than the usual 25 years to reach their full potential for benefit.We just need to adjust our impatient expectations and time scale

    Constant poisoning and interruption of the process hasn't done one iota of good

    We also need to develop other criteria for prosperity ..it doesn't always need to be measured in dollars

    • Dukeofurl 2.1

      Not able to be ‘harvested’ as you think. Commercial use is out of the question due to the way they grow.

      • weka 2.1.1

        I think you are missing the zeitgeist of the post. It's to look at creative alternatives to slash and burn approaches to wilding pines, in the context of climate change and sustainable land management. Please stay on topic from now on. I'm sure you've got some good ideas you can contribute. "Clever minds and deeper thinking".

      • McFlock 2.1.2

        So I'm an "a tree is a tree" n00b. Why is the way they grow impervious to chainsaw use?

        • weka

          it's not.

          'Wilding pine' is a term used for a range of species, including non-pine ones. Some are better suited to certain uses than others, because of how they grow or what they're made of. The point of the post is to look at the conifers and see what we can do with them, rather than what we can't. I'll be interested to see where Duke goes with that.

    • mauī 2.2

      They do spread into native forest. I know of a patch of solid native bush with some old man pines. Now there are multiple generations of newer pines pepper potted throughout the forest, probably from seed that has been able to find a light gap in the forest. Pine can also grow up through native forest, although it struggles.

      I agree though we probably need to adjust our expectations. Pines as part of the native landscape, because they aren't going anywhere. Maybe you could compare them to our native beech forests, where only a select set of native species grow alongside the beech trees creating a more open habitat. Pine forests are similar in that respect – less plant diversity but more open space to walk in and observe. That is probably a more human relatable environment too.

  3. Dukeofurl 3

    Trees may be a good idea but you are overlooking the reasons Wilding Pines are classified as a destructive.


    Wilding conifers threaten to permanently alter the unique landscapes that are only found in New Zealand.

    As wilding conifers overwhelm our native landscapes, they kill our native plants, and evict our native animals. They also have a huge impact on our economy. They suck valuable water out of catchments, they add big costs to farming and they impact on tourism and recreational opportunities.

    See them as been able to be 'harvested' is completely misguided

    Wilding conifers are a major problem in areas where there is no native forest, such as above the bush line, in mineral belts and tussock grasslands. In these areas, wilding conifers modify the natural ecosystems so much that the unique New Zealand landscape is lost and native plants and animals are evicted or die.


    • weka 3.1

      Did you read the post Duke? Because your comment suggests you didn't.

      • Dukeofurl 3.1.1

        Most of your claims arent backed up


        [neither are yours. I gave you a couple of chances. Stay out of the comments on this post for the rest of the day. – weka]

        [additional mod note now I have more time. Had you said something like “I don’t get what you mean, how can conifers be managed to prevent dominance?”, then we could have had a conversation about that and I would have been happy to tell you what I think. Multiple posts asserting I am wrong and you are right were creating a derail and I don’t have time or patience for that. I hope you get what I am pointing to here going forward with other posts, because I think you do have things to bring to the table, but as you know, it’s not a free for all under my posts. My patience is shorter now than it was a year ago – weka]

      • Siobhan 3.1.2

        Dukes comments..or link..is exactly what I would have put up..and I read the piece twice just to make sure I understood the points being made.

        Though I would add concerns about native fisheries..

        “The pH level (degree of acidity) is important to both bottom fauna and subsequently aquatic life such as indigenous fish and trout. If the pH drops below 5.5 (increased acidity) then long term damage to the fishery, both native and trout, occurs.”

        "Pine trees take much more water from the environment than native vegetation and reports were where pines have been planted, stream flows were noticeably less and even disappeared."

        Now both these statements are in relation to mono culture rather than the wilding pine situation, however from what I have seen wilding pines tend to create their own monoculture fairly quickly.

        I would recommend reading this study.


        • weka

          If you read the post I'm am clearly saying that we need to manage wilding pines to transition to mixed species, and not let them establish dominance.

          For instance, if the current planning and implementation budget was allocated to that instead of spraying, what interventions could we use to create forests rather than plantation? This is what Robert was pointing to I think, that we need to think deeper on these things and see what is possible. Being locked into monoculture thinking was what I wanted to get past.

  4. Gosman 4

    The issue here is one of land productivity. Wilding Pines may well make sense at an economic level (i.e. allowing people to make more money from them than it costs to grow them) however if the land can make more money as a Pine plantation then it is able to support more people at a higher income. If you want people to have higher incomes you need to offer them the opportunities to take that path.

    • weka 4.1

      Some of the land in question isn't suitable for plantation pine, but even where it is, we should still be moving to mixed and sustainable forestry and more diverse timbers. Pine is useful but has distinct limits as a material.

      I can't see any reason why people working in sustainable reforestry can't make a good living from it. I agree about offering people opportunities that will be attractive to them. This is what the post is about, exploring how to do that.

      • Gosman 4.1.1

        You say "We" but this is not a "We" thing ultimately. The owner of the land decides what it is in his or her best interest. You may seek to influence their decisions by providing incentives or disincentives to certain activity but unless it is more financially attractive to have a mixed forest with Wilding Pines then it won't just happen because you think it is a nice idea.

        • weka

          Sure, what I mean is there is no reason that society can't develop better models than we have now. That was the point of the post. Private land owners who like to lead the way can pioneer this.

          Wilding pine control uses public funds and is done on public land, it's not just a private property issue. There are publicly owned forests.

  5. joe90 5

    Yeah, let them grow if you want to change the chemical composition of our soils, exterminate native flora and fauna, and turn our National conservation estate into a mono-cultural wasteland suitable for conifers and only conifers.

    • weka 5.1

      Why would you let them grow on conservation estate? Did you read the post? Have you been in forests that are mixed species and not conifer dominant?

      The point of the post is to elicit deeper discussion. eg how can we maintain and restore native ecosystems while reforesting marginal farmland with mixed/introduced species for human use?

      • Dukeofurl 5.1.1


        [see mod note elsewhere in the thread – weka]

      • joe90 5.1.2

        Why would you let them grow on conservation estate

        They grow where the wind takes the seeds from adjacent plantations/wilding populations.

        They've spent the past fifty years trying to control wilding pines in the Tongariro National Park with no end in sight. There are ongoing efforts to eradicate serious infestations in the Kawakawa Forest Park and Mount Tarawera and in the south island they threaten over 200,000 hectares of DOC administered land.

        By all means restore native flora but please, no more exotics. Because more conifers, wilding or plantation, means more infestation in the National Conservation estate.

      • New view 5.1.3

        Have you ever been anywhere near a Wilding Pine. Because the way your comments go you haven’t. You talk of managing them. How, without agent orange. If you don’t want to poison you cut them out or cut them down before they seed. One by one. They seed on the wind prolifically over a huge area. In the Mackenzie Basin miles from any forest you find the seedlings growing. I’ve seen them. The fuck up on the east Coast recently where hundreds of thousands of dollars of seedlings died before they were planted gives us an idea of the current management skills so I wouldn’t put to much faith in managing wilding pines. I feel the idea is worth thinking about just. But not with Wilding pines.

        • weka

          Did you read the post? The idea is to let *some (not all, and not areas that can be restored to native) marginal farmland be reforested by using wilding pines.

          Management in this context is how to create mixed species (not just conifer) forests. Have you ever been in a NZ forest that is mixed species including pine or other conifers? How did that forest come to be like that?

    • Drowsy M. Kram 5.2

      Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) are partial to a bit of (exotic) pine. Plant Porokaiwhiri (pigeonwood; Hedycarya arborea).



    • Francesca 5.3

      Trouble is people rarely see a pine tree older than 25 years

      In Milnthorpe park you can see examples of old Pines festooned with all manner of native epiphytic ferns and as astelias, with self seeded five finger,rimus, pigeon wood at its feet.

      The Pines are being superseded by natives

      The notion of Pines being toxic to other species is a myth. It's a matter of time only

      • weka 5.3.1

        Where is Milnthorpe Park? That sounds amazing? Is there native bush nearby?

        Conifers do form dominant climax forests though right? We'd need to actively prevent that in wilding pine areas, by management. Those areas tend to be dry and have a history of overgrazing so it's hard for native species to regenerate. Letting the gorse and broom grow would help. I wonder if they have/had pines at Hinewai?

      • Robert Guyton 5.3.2

        That's a great observation, Francesca. I used to sit and watch the enormous pines in Isel Park, in Stoke, near Nelson. They were enormous and truly magnificent. Pines are as wonderful as any tree. Pinus radiate has been commodified here in NZ and rendered inert, so far as wonder is concerned, in the minds of New Zealanders.

  6. Dennis Frank 6

    My reason to support wilding pine toleration on marginal land would be the magic mushroom that grows under them. http://www.fungifoodie.com/2016/04/17/new-zealand-mushrooms-part-2/#sthash.WtkLJp5I.dpbs

    Amanita Muscaria, scarlet with white polka dots. I was never brave enough to try tripping on it, but as a boy in the fifties would collect armfuls in Autumn, from under the pines on the hillside out back of my grandad's place just above the Te Henui. They looked so cool! I'd admire them sitting in rows like an art exhibition.

    Natural magic is essential to human life. Re-enchanting our hinterland would be a fine way to bequeath a regenerative stewardship ethic to our descendants…

    • weka 6.1

      I love this. I had a fascination with them as a child too.

      There's a whole thing missing from the post about the importance of shifting land from pasture to forest and the roles that fungi play in that.

      • Robert Guyton 6.1.1

        Fungi are the Way Forward. Once we align ourselves with them, we'll be on our way!

    • Stuart Munro. 6.2

      If you're going the mushroom route, the 松茸, Korean: 송이, 松栮, pine mushroom, Tricholoma matsutake would generate significant returns, and it's not called the pine mushroom for nothing. Dry years and rising demand have driven prices in Asia over $1000 a kilo, making it second only to truffles for demand.

      • weka 6.2.1

        cool Do you know if it's allowed to be grown in NZ?

        • Stuart Munro.

          I don't see why not – Shitake aren't native & we've been growing them since 1985. Likely the import restrictions are severe however, creating a practical monopoly for the "scientists investigating whether they can cultivate shoro (Rhizopogon rubescens) and matsutake (Tricholoma matsutake)" of whom little else is said.

          There are likely several other families of mushroom traditionally gathered by Russians that could be gainfully introduced, though of course locals would need to learn to recognize them. Some may be here already – there are apparently porcini in Hagley Park for instance.

          • greywarshark

            Is WetheBleeple around? He is very keen on mushrooms and knows a lot about varieties. I haven't seen his input from mid July I think.

            I remember walking through a forest at Hanmer Springs at Easter one year and was fascinated by the red and white topped mushrooms. Like out of one of my childhood books.

          • Robert Guyton

            Hagley Park has ceps. Visitors from overseas inadvertently bring and shed spores of all sorts of fungi; it's not feasible to create barriers to fungi. If we plant the "nurse" trees or create the favoured environments for specific fungi, they might well "turn up" (unless the local fungal population don't want them smiley.

      • Robert Guyton 6.2.2

        Matsutake are delicious. Spores travel, unseen, on paper. Write a letter to your Korean pen-pal smiley

        • Stuart Munro.

          A splendid idea!

          I had thought of bringing some back – you can buy gift packs of them around Chuseok – my banker friend usually receives a few. We did the whole Songi thing once down near Daegu – Songi beer, mandu, soup and barbeque with samgyupsal.

          What I'd like to see is them widespread – providing supplementary income and food the way morels do nowadays in North America, rather than the closed small plantings that characterize contemporary truffieres.

          Korean mountain areas are not farmed and gathering rights are not exclusive, so songi, ginseng and the vast variety of san-namuel 'mountain vegetables' provide pin money for the rural poor, as well as healthy & tasty dietary variety.

  7. Stuart Munro. 7

    There are some quite profitable uses out there already, starting with essential oils.


    Countries with slower growing forests would find ways to use the timber, and we might as well, if we chose. Given that a lot of our tussock grasslands were forested geologically recently, reforesting them should not create a kneejerk panic, albeit twere better to choose a mixture of desirable species rather than settling for self-selection in every case.

    The DoC position seems a bit of a moral panic. Not so very long ago moral panic and 245T was the response to gorse, now it's treated more as a nursery crop and green manure for forestry. I'm pretty sure wilding pines could be used in a similar fashion, and like gorse, robbed of sunlight they'll rapidly die off.

  8. Yes trees, trees and more trees!

    When we look at the sheer amount of wood forests that have been cut down and milled to supply the markets and populations in the last 100 years it is staggering. Back then , the consequences were not realized , barring erosion , loss of fauna habitat etc…but now those chickens have come home to roost.

    If possible , the replanting of indigenous species in each region , but that is not always feasible or practical, but there are surrogates that are and can be put to pragmatic use.

    I am no 'greenie' in the traditional sense, just someone who grew up in the bush with a father that was a park ranger.

    I prefer living in and around the timber than open pasture lands. But that's just me. However , I'm not sure I 100% agree with Robert in the case of arid lands and country's where essentially 'mobstocking' to mimic former wild herds seemed to have maintained former grassland areas that have now become deserts / semi deserts. I think this chap has to be listened to and taken very , very seriously.

    How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change | Allan Savory

    The reason I bring this up is because these arid regions contain some of the largest and most problematic areas of the globe, , yet tree planting and wetland management is a no brainer in temperate areas like NZ , which is conducive to vegetation with its high rainfall and favourable climate… that's something we here can do and do well. And turn a profit of considerable benefit.

    Be that profit financial , environmental or both…

    Perhaps then we should allow the wilding pine to grow in some regions.

    Allan Savory on How to Green the World's Deserts and Reverse …


    Anyhows , I seem to remember that NZ has only 17% left of its former lowland, and alpine vegetation coverage, – which a huge amount of denuding, – much of which has proven a disaster in regards erosion and soil management…and they have found the only real long term solution was to let those areas return to a natural state. If it were my choice, I’d prefer scrub Ti tree anyday as a nursery tree for the larger species, but in many high country areas that is not feasible, so again… perhaps there is a place for the wilding pine.

    • weka 8.1

      I find Allan Savory's work impressive. Not sure how well it translates here but the principles are sound and could be learned from. Some regenag farmers are using mob stocking on fast rotation, that seems to work for productive farms.

      • WILD KATIPO 8.1.1

        Yeah , your quite right – two entirely different local climates and ecosystems involved. However , with all the focus on the massive and alarming destruction of ongoing deforestestation , sometimes the grasslands get ignored, which as Savory points out is a colossal amount of carbon and water being lost. I guess the main take away is the collective climatic effects , – that and an example of poor land management.

        • Robert Guyton

          Wild Katipo – there's dispute over whether grasslands anywhere are natural: that is, they only came into existence with the help of humans. Aside from alpine areas and some other small specific sites, chemically or temperately difficult.
          The African Plains were forested once. Australia was not always arid and thinly treed.

          • WILD KATIPO

            Um ,… lightning strikes causing burn offs, flooding, and the Great Plains always supported vast herds of bison. I should imagine the same goes for the herds in Africa whereby trees were thinned / destroyed by the actions of large mammals ie : Elephants and so on and grasslands became the dominant vegetation. Bit of everything , I suspect, and along with mans fires and burn offs, accidental or deliberate.

  9. xanthe 9

    nature abhors a vacuum…. let them grow…. and count them in with our billion trees effort. plant turpentine is a valuable commodity and will only increase in value. a fantastic opportunity for small scale sustainable onsite enterprise going forward.

  10. Stuart Munro. 10

    If we choose to pursue the technology, wilding pines could provide the feedstock for a biobutanol industry that can replace petrol in existing vehicles. It's a good tech to pursue because, in addition to running in existing fuel distribution infrastructure, it can utilize the waste from other uses of the pines. A hardy, fast growing self-sowing feedstock is not a terrible thing.

    There's a lot of research into biobutanol at present, which is a bacterial digestion product, but fully commercial models aren't out yet, the are three limitations:

    1. The digestion products, as with brewing, are toxic to the organisms producing them. A continuous process removing them as they are produced requires an engineering solution along the lines of the NZ invented continuous brewing process.

    2. Development of preferred digestion strains is in its infancy and some improvements in yield or ease of culture are expected.

    3. Plant for separation of digestion products is required to produce the high specification standardized fuels and market ready solvent byproducts.

    The logic for pursuing this technology is rather better than that for fossil fuel based Taranaki hydrogen project, given the sustainable source.

  11. Robert Guyton 11

    Ohhhh! I missed this, being away from the computer, up-lifting grafted apple trees for our heritage fruit tree sale this coming weekend! Blast! I'd have liked to have been involved early on, especially with the Duke's comments. It's an emotive and controversial topic, wilding pines and temperatures rise quickly when it's discussed. I'm surprised Mr Leghorn..sorry, gwaghorn hasn't joined the fray, but perhaps like me, he's been busy out of doors. I know the conservationists swoon at the suggestion that wildings might be beneficial and some very respectable and honourable people would seethe at the presentation of the idea, but I think it hasn't been explored to any great depth yet, so I thank weka for taking the initiative and throwing the issue into the pit of debate.

    One of the issues that Sir Alan Mark takes, is that of water processes that involve tussocks and are interrupted by trees. I don't think anyone's been bold enough to take on his wise words on this matter, but with climate change bearing down upon us, I reckon all cards should be put on the table. I reckon, as a rule of thumb, re-foresting the planet is the way forward.

    • greywarshark 11.1

      I seem to remember Sir Kerry Burke or someone in his Canterbury Environment Council saying about pines being very water hungry which was a disadvantage, and it also cropped up in one of the links I saw and may be in the ones I have included here further down when they come out of moderation (too many links but I thought they could be useful).

      The tussocks might act as a series of water brakes when flowing down a slope and they would then be akin to the Mulloon Natural Sequence Farming system.

      2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48x0lPEkypQ

    • weka 11.2

      I thought you might be outside doing tree things. B has other things to tend during the day.

      What was Mark's take on water?

      • Robert Guyton 11.2.1

        That tussock collects water from the foggy atmosphere and that's the start of the water cycle. Smother the tussocks and the water cycle is interrupted.

        • WILD KATIPO

          Jolly interesting… that,… after a fashion , is what Alan Savory was saying about regenerating'grasslands'… the main difference being that in those areas they had seasonal die offs which , if it wasn't for the wild herds, would have become desert like… I wonder if the Moa worked the tussock lands in prior times…

          However, tussock retaining moisture so that the soil does not lose that water through evaporation is very interesting…perhaps another example of the perfect symbiosis of the land and indigenous vegetation.

          • Robert Guyton

            The tussocks serve as "collectors" of dew and fog, funnelling it down to the soil and into the sub-soil etc. Pines don't do the same thing. However, forests attract rain, so the water cycle could be maintained. There's not been enough work/thinking done about this yet, imo.

  12. marty mars 12

    The major issue I have with this is that it is not considering the holistic ecosystem related to trees and a forest. The tree is the big standy up bit but the real value is in the total interwoven support structures in and around the trees. I'm not saying this can't be sorted somehow, I'm saying it must be considered otherwise we are just creating real issues.

    • Robert Guyton 12.1

      Yes, Marty, that's it! Let's think that way, literally deeper than we've previously thought!

    • weka 12.2

      totally agree marty. When I talk about forest I mean all of it including what is under the ground and all the non-plant life. I think we have lots of exciting work ahead seeing what kind of non-native or mixed forests we can grow and what happens in them. I also remain committed to increasing native systems too.

      Thanks for pointing this out, because sometimes forests get talked about as if it’s just the trees, or even just one species.

  13. greywarshark 13

    Turpentine pine? That would be a useful plant.

    I have been looking at agroforestry to see how it would go if farmers had wildings and also had stock, so being able to continue farming but with trees on paddocks in greater numbers than they would have had before. And of course they can be used clustered for shelter belts and shade if that suits.

    Wilding pines are just part of the general description of 'wildings' regarded as weeds (plants in the wrong place).

    Wikipedia says : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilding_conifer

    There are ten main species included in this designation.


    European larch in the Jollie River. The trees have almost completely blanketed the flanks of the lower section of the valley.

    There are ten main species that have become wildings:

    It appears, from reading the info on google, that none of these wilding pines have a use for supplying edible pine nuts unfortunately.


    I think I have interpreted the info correctly. It appears that –

    Studies on land with pine growing on pasture for animals (agroforestry). This showed a drop off in growth of pasture, and lower weights of animals and the choice of planted feed had to be nutritious and shade tolerant. If there were carbon credits gand the pines were used for firewood etc when well grown and interspersed with some forage trees like tagaestes (I think). with appropriate management viability of both animal farming and healthy tree growing could be achieved. (That is my perception anyway.) But should not be written off, and the wilding pines could be left. as long as the variety or all of them were not toxic to the animals in a mixed management. I don't remember reading anything about that.

    Other links that could be useful:


    Experiments with trees for shade and dairying.

  14. Graeme 14

    Not all wildings are of no use. A lot of the old crop douglas fir around the Whakatipu is amazing timber. A very public example is the trees beside the Skyline gondola, beautiful straight trees that would mill very well.

    A very large old stand at Long Gully in Skippers was milled in the 90's. I used a lot of it in building and it was the best building timber I've ever used, light and clean, and incredibly stable. It was a completely different timber to normal NZ plantation D. Fir, but the Long Gully trees were 60+ years old, where plantation trees are usually cut at 28 – 30 years.

    Looking at the way Central Otago and Upper Waitaki grows wildings, especially in the McKenzie, you have to wonder whether forestry wouldn't be a better land use than dairy. There’s a lot of species other than P. Rad and D. Fir that don’t have the same wilding potential.

  15. bwaghorn 15

    I've cut pinus contorta down for doc . They grow very straight once they seed in large numbers . Usually we would have one big ugly contorted mother tree surrounded by many nice straight ones with limbless trunks.

    Also I was on molesworth recently massive farm with 2 full time and a few part time jobs . Plant that not quality farms .

  16. Ray 16

    It is not often I agree with Robert but on this I do 100%.

    Most of NZs tussock land was in bush before humans arrived and Mother Nature would really like it to return to that, hence the "wilding problem" which is her using the species available trying to do just that.

    If we can help the planet and edge the process in a way that we can all profit from so much the better.

  17. Robert Guyton 17

    A sobering read:

    "The enclosure of the commons is a story that may have begun hundreds of years earlier in England, but it is one that is by now familiar the world over, especially to the peasants, subsistence farmers, and indigenous peoples who are so often the target of these dispossessions. Whatever the cause – whether dispossession from the land by powerful outsiders, or the catastrophic destruction of forests or biomes owing to invasive organisms – robbed of the commons that lies at the heart of the community, that ecological base that sustains us all, we are made poor. We are made refugees. We are made aliens to nature, to each other, and to ourselves."


  18. Pat 18

    Some history..

    "Prior to human colonisation, it is thought that the New Zealand landmass was almost entirely covered in forest, apart from alpine areas. Between the beginning of Polynesian settlement in New Zealand around the fourteenth century and the beginning of organised European colonisation in the nineteenth century, it is estimated that forest cover was reduced by about half, largely through fire. When the European settlement of New Zealand began in earnest in the 1840s, it is estimated that forest, or ‘bush’ in the vernacular, covered about two thirds of the North Island and about 25 to 30 per cent of the South Island. In the decades that followed, bush was destroyed through milling and fire to make way for settlements and farms. By 1900, forest cover had been reduced by half again, to about 25 per cent."



    Seems to me that the answer to the question of 'wilding pines' is …it depends.

    Like the 'billion trees' programme there needs to be specific goals, designated species and areas and the removal of economic incentives as the driver

    • weka 18.1

      Re that last bit, there's some low hanging fruit with a fair amount of land in NZ that could be handed over to communities to manage and reforest.

  19. R.P Mcmurphy 19

    look what should happen is next autumn allkids go out and collect acorns and they are topdressed everywhere.

    they will out compete pines and provide a better ecological solution.

    I am not even going to bother with any counter arguments. These trees grow fast and provide canopy protection for native flora.

    When is somebody going to get the frigging job done.

    • weka 19.1

      Oak forests would be a game changer.

      Not sure how well oaks grow from seed in the landscapes that have wilding pines. Anyone know?

      • Graeme 19.1.1

        Around Arrowtown oaks will grow anywhere the acorn lands, I've got a couple of wild (probably fell off the back of a truck) ones coming away nicely on the roadside outside home.

        We have sycamore forests too, again wilding trees, and spreading prolifically. But no one seems to care about them, and the hawthorn, and rowan, and elder.

        • weka

          those sound like the makings of pretty interesting forest. Are there areas of mixed species? Does oak grow on it own?

          • Graeme

            Oaks do require a bit of human intervention, intention or otherwise, we don't have any wildlife to spread the acorns around, ducks hoover them up but I don't think the acorns are viable out the other end.

            Sycamore forest quickly becomes a mono-culture like D. Fir, but a lot nicer at 20 years old. So really still weeds at this point. What happens in 50 -100 years is yet to be seen but could be interesting.

            Add into the mix is several wilding conifer "control groups" with considerable council and DOC support who are doing a sterling job of cutting down and spraying the conifer weeds, to let the other weeds, sycamore, hawthorn, rowan, broom, gorse, briar and everything else that's escaped the garden thrive. And there's been a bit of native that's been clobbered in the process.

            • Robert Guyton

              We should look to the natural forests where sycamores grow in balance with other species and learn from those how to create mixed exotic forests here. We can't hope to have native-only forests here; that option is long gone.

  20. peterlepaysan 20


    There is some discussion about bovine (but not human) contributions to methane production. Apparently methane is a significant factor as well as CO2.

    Reforestation (on a huge scale) seems to be a partial and significant solution.

    Unfortunately pine trees inhibit (to put it mildly) the destruction of methane.

    I suspect other species may do likewise, Cypress would be my prime suspect.

    We should keep planting trees, actually keep planting and stop making co2 and methane.

    No more burping an farting.

    • weka 20.1

      "Unfortunately pine trees inhibit (to put it mildly) the destruction of methane."

      How does that work?

      • Mack 20.1.1

        "How does that work?" Don't think you'll get a straight answer for that, Weka. .. just looks like some pompous, juvenile, loon .. right from go,, with the "Ahem".

        There's some tree planting madness gripping the climate crisis crowd but it's all futile nonsense. There's total loss of perspective. Don't even worry about the Amazon too much, either… satellites show that night time transpiration of the Amazon jungle releases vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Sure, there is a net fixing of carbon by tree photosynthesis, but it's just in proportion to tree growth, and some trees grow very slowly. People forget that the land area covered by trees is proportionately not very large compared to the rest of the surface of the planet . 72% is covered in ocean, and this is where the "lungs of the world" really is. Satellites show vast blooms of phytoplankton regularly occur in the oceans, which suck up the heavy CO2 gas wafting above the sea. These vast blooms don't last very long but die off pretty quickly… taking the dissolved CO2 as a carbonate sediment to the bottom of the ocean.

      • Robert Guyton 20.1.2

        How does that work?

        Try this explanation:

        "Last Sunday on Radio NZ, kiwi climate science Jim Salinger spoke of his current research in North America. A colleague gathering air over pine forests found that the pines “burb” isoprenes that inhibit the removal of methane from the atmosphere. The Science Direct website explains the impact of isoprenes in the atmosphere stating it “reacts with oxidised molecules that would otherwise react with methane, thereby extending the residence time of methane and enhancing global warming…”

        So if we continue to extend our pine plantations we could be extending the life of methane in the atmosphere. Pine trees will inevitably be the majority of the billion trees the Government plans to plant. Recent reports also advocate reducing pasture. We need an urgent rethink. Here is a link to Jim Salinger’s interview. Comments on methane start at 3.15 minutes."


      • Robert Guyton 20.1.3

        Jim Salinger says a chemical produced by pines might be interfering with the binding of methane molecules in the atmosphere, causing methane to remain up there for longer. Might be. He's researching the issue now, in Canada. In any case, we all agree here (aside from Mack who's "futile nonsense" comment is self-descriptive) monocultures are inappropriate and a diverse planting approach is the way to go. The idea of people adding diversity to monocultural plantings is an entertaining one. The classic tale of "The man who planted trees" would be a good inspiration for people, preparing to head out into pine forests with bags of acorns over their shoulders smiley

  21. Ad 21

    QueenstownLakes Council is taking out all of its pine forest. They don't support any native wildlife there, they acidify the soil, and are as invasive as rabbits.

    Tussock country as legitimate native landscape should be protected not further ruined. Just because pines survive well, does not mean they shouldn't be eradicated in the wild.

    • Robert Guyton 21.1

      Eradication projects foster an anti-biotic mindset. Gorse is another plant that attracts ire and antipathy, yet is proving invaluable for recreating forests. Hinewai Reserve is the prime example.

      • Ad 21.1.1

        So let's be really clear Robert.

        I want eradication of rabbits, mustelids, phytophthera, deer, ragwort, and a vast range of regionally and nationally recognized pest species.

        You can pick and choose if you want. Explain which programme should be de-funded. Go ahead.

        I'm sure every dead carcass can grow a native something. That's a pathetically weak argument. Gorse has been one of the most destructive species we've ever had in New Zealand. Pines are the same.

        There is no argument to overturn well recognized national and regional policy against wilding pines. State which policy is wrong – you should be across it on a regional council for that long.

        Wilding pines should be on the Predator Free New Zealand list, and for government and councils they effectively are.

        • Robert Guyton


          You might want "eradication of rabbits, mustelids, phytophthera, deer, ragwort, and a vast range of regionally and nationally recognized pest species." but your chances of getting what you want are not high, in my opinion. That "vast range" is, as you say, vast, and eradicating them all is totally unrealistic, again, in my opinion. Regional councils shed organisms from their lists when the realise that they can't achieve the aim of eradication and those organisms become background and part of the growing numbers of "pests" entering the country or flaring up from colonies already here.

          As to gorse, I invite you to watch the short film about Hugh Wilson's work with gorse at Hinewai and particularly note the comments from the farmer who originally felt as you do about gorse; it's a great watch.

          • Ad

            Robert since you are standing for re-elwction, what is your opposition to Predator Free New Zealand?

            Laziness and pessimism is a good reason to vote you out

            What parts of Southland regional policy on pest species do you oppose?

            Don't ask me to watch junk when you're incapable of actual policy argument. You want gorse, go have a chat with the Maori of Northland.

            • Robert Guyton

              Ad – my concerns about Predator Free NZ are many and I'm always willing to talk about the issue openly, in order to lead the way for others who might have reservations and need a prompt to express themselves.

              Your second sentence could be thought offensive, however, I take no offence at it, knowing that you're mistaken in your thinking.

              I'm concerned that the commitment to eradicate all of the predators listed, will fall short for various reasons and that over all, re-infestation will have us wondering at the wisdom of committing so much to it in the first place. Off shore islands are good places to run such ambitious programmes; the whole of NZ is not, in my opinion. I think too, of the methods being employed and weigh up the effects of those on the environment with the expected (but vain, imo) result.

              As to your characterising the film about Hugh Wilson as "junk", you lose a lot of credibility, imo, by saying that. I'm interested though, in what aspect of Hugh's work you don't support. Your apparent hatred of gorse puts you in a different camp to many people commenting here. I didn't say I want gorse, I'm saying, where it exists, it's wise to consider a Hugh Wilson type approach to it, if reforestation is your eventual aim, as I guess it would be for you, so keen you seem to be on ridding the land of possums; I presume that's for the sake of the forest, yes? Or are you wanting to protect cattle and the cattle farmers from the effects of TB?

              • Stuart Munro.

                As far as I can make out through the fog of spin, the 1080 program insofar as it relates to cattle (and prior to the invention of the 'predator free' campaign 90% of 1080 use was directed to that end) is intended not so much to control TB per se, as at achieving TB free certification for marketing purposes. This makes the benefits claimed for the program, which must weigh against its negative impacts, remarkably slender.

              • greywarshark

                Robert at 12.44 pm

                I like your considered and balanced approach. You take a pragmatic approach, looking at the cost and benefits and judging by the likely outcomes.

                You note that humans can decide something but Nature rules in the end – 'Man proposes but God disposes'. So it is no use making a decree that something should happen, without thinking about the problems that plan would create, and whether the outcomes would be better than if other methods were used.

          • WILD KATIPO

            Wonderful video, had me smiling . Its the age old thing , to let the natural processes do the work. And NZ native bush is tough. It will , if left alone, reclaim the land generally. Great work and a great vid !

        • greywarshark

          Adedit –

          This is no time for rigidity – following a policy that is time-consuming and actually goes against what is seen as a current need. You seem inflexible about sticking to projects and behaviours that were formulated last century.

          This century we are faced with a different view of the world, how we cope with that will show up as being successful at limiting damage, or unsuccessful and causing great sadness. Nobody with a healthy outlook wants to see most of the country hit by constant enervating problems because we failed to direct our efforts earlier, to the most practical and far-seeing and innovative measures we could that are nature-based. No authoritarian force keeping strictly to the rules set up in times of ignorance can stem Nature. We must work how we can using a template that identifies the best methods for the outcomes we want, and overturns past methods if shown to be below the best option.

    • Pat 21.2

      Which native landscape?…the native landscape of 10,000 years ago, 1,000 years ago or a hundred years ago or of today?

      • Robert Guyton 21.2.1

        Today's landscapes are "native". Our task, having created them, is to optimise them, manage them and make them a good as they can possibly be, for all concerned.

        • Pat

          And that requires a definitive goal….not some vague process driven by market forces with all of its perverse outcomes

          • Robert Guyton

            Yes. Discussions like this one need to be had widely, so that the problems, challenges and solutions can be revealed. We shouldn't be fearful of poking at "wasp" nests of accepted wisdom; if we stir up the embers we might get the fire going. Presently, it's smouldering and we need some heat applied to the problem quickly!

            • Pat

              we can discuss endlessly while the problem overcomes us….or our so called leaders can show some leadership instead of trying to be all things to all people.

              • Robert Guyton

                As far as reforesting is concerned, it seems as though they're trying. Further discussion though, is needed to make their efforts and investments more effective and appropriate, I reckon. This sort of discussion should never stop. As well, "non-leaders" should feel inspired to join the fray and improve our chances of success, by presenting their own plans, testing them in public them get on with implementing them, knowing they are backed by others.
                It’s useful when discussing trees, to be working closely with trees: I’m presently “shaping” my forest garden with pruning saw and secateurs, and have the topic of forest-creation in my thoughts constantly. Right now though, I’m off to sort fruit trees for our sale this weekend, so I’ll miss the conversations here during the day. I hope they’re productive.

                • Pat

                  then our perceptions are quite different re the trees policy….I see a poorly considered policy that has no definitive goal and a process with the wrong incentives and unconnected and contrary to other relevant policy areas ( conservation, wilding pines, land use change etc)

              • greywarshark

                But they do have to consider all things, and all people. That is a change that has to be made from past thinking and behaviour.

                This requires real thought for the future beyond profit-is-queen. And that thinking has not been done in a continuous fashion since the shocks of the 1970's. What a great future we have managed to purvey after WW2! The future was before us to do great things to make society a good and enjoyable and admirable thing that all countries would achieve. We didn't they didn't. We have to suck it up, turn round and listen to the people who think and care, and explain the problem to the rest, as we know that society will always have different factions.

                So mere leadership isn't enough – we need to have direction and means and helping people to get on board the moving pathway. If they don't, who is going to be there to help them cope? Perhaps we will have the sort of leaders that picks them out and puts them in 'detention centres' when they are not nasty criminals undermining society. These would not be good leaders for a society regarding itself as responsible and decent.

                • Pat

                  Yes they have to consider all things and all people….AND THEN DECIDE….not defer direction for political expediency. It appears to me that there is no goal other than that of reelection, is that any way to deal with a crisis, or even run a country sans crisis?

  22. Warren Doney 22

    I've often thought let nature heal land the way it wants to. Even gorse can be beneficial, forming a kind of nursery in its midst. I would probably pick manuka over pine though. It self seeds well once established, and it's good for stabilizing hills. Maybe hemp too?

    • Mack 22.1

      I can't see why these wackos are getting their nickers in a knot over methane. It only comprises 0.00017% of the earth's atmosphere. Corrupt old hammer and sickle head loons like Jim Salinger are talking even less than a fart in a hurricanes worth wrt methane. And as for Nitrous Oxide… at 0.00003%… that's 4 0s !!!… well, we could all do with a bit of an increase in that laughing gas stuff. I'm all for making the world a happier place.

      • Pat 22.1.1

        This may explain why


        “Humans have been producing methane for thousands of years, by clearing land with fires, raising cattle, and growing rice. Thanks to air bubbles trapped in ice cores taken from Antarctica, we know that the global average methane concentration in the atmosphere has nearly tripled in response. Because it lasts only about a decade in the atmosphere, cutting methane is a relatively fast-acting lever for slowing climate change. But it isn’t clear how we should pull that lever”

        • Mack

          Same old cliches we hear from you loons…

          "… we should pull that lever"

          …. we should plug in.. switch on.

          ….we should take positive action.

          ….we should get to grips with.

          …we should open our eyes.

          …. we should pick the low hanging fruit.

          …. we should extract finger.

          Nah, we should run around like a headless chook, under the directions of the NZ global warming high priest James Renwick , who is stupid enough to believe that earth's global temperature would be -18deg C without some wacko "greenhouse effect" in the atmosphere. Stupid enough to believe that the ATMOSPHERE is keeping the OCEANS from becoming FROZEN SOLID.

          • Pat

            apparently you didnt read the link

            • Mack

              Nah, I didn't Pat. and I guarantee that nobody else here bothered to wade through all that wasted scientific thinking about methane. Never in human history has so much scientific time and effort been devoted to study something based on such a false assumption.

              There were a few more cliches… in addition to "pull the lever."

              "… is the wild card"

              "….. is an educated guessing game" … "final score of the game" …… "but not who scored what and how"

              "….. water in a bathtub with an open faucet and plugged drain"

              "….. gotten the wind out of its sails"

              "…. what's coming down the road"

              There's one more I've just remembered from our troughing climate clown, J. Renwick "….which way the dice rolls."

              This leading loon needs his ass firmly kicked.


              • weka

                Mack, I'm having trouble understanding your posts. Do you believe that climate change is caused by humans? Do you believe that it's a serious problem?

                • Mack

                  No weka, , I think I'm about the only denialist here at The Standard. I prefer denialist to denier.. it's more professional.

                  • weka

                    ok, thanks for being clear and honest. I don't allow climate denial under my posts. You can look up past posts of mine to see why. Please refrain from commenting under my climate posts in future.

      • Robert Guyton 22.1.2

        " I can't see why…"

        Perhaps you could apply yourself to study? You might make the connection, understand the issue, gain a sense of what others are thinking… you know, break out of your own ossified mind-set, who knows, maybe you'll…see why!

        Good luck!

        • Anne

          Not a chance RG. We've got a severe case of Dunning Kruger syndrome here:

          The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence.


        • Mack

          "Perhaps you could apply yourself to study?"

          Spoken like a true teacher… speaking down to his pupils from his position of authority. Feeding to young , receptive, innocent ears any ideological garbage that infests his tiny imagination. The trouble is. you're teaching my/our children… but it's a good job you've retired now? Hope you weren't teaching "climate science" to our kids?

          "… gain a sense of what others are thinking"

          Nah, Robert, I've been around long enough to have an idea of what others are thinking…and have an ability to think for myself … broken free from the establishment group think of the classroom. Unlike you, haven't stayed with the loony govt. classroom Koolaid… that not eating meat will make a difference to the temperature of this planet.

          "…ossified mind-set"

          Nah, Robert I think you're the believing bonehead.

          Good luck!

          • Robert Guyton

            So, that's a no to further study?

            There's no need to regard me as an "authority", Mack; we're all equal here on The Standard. I do bridle a little at your describing my imagination as "tiny"; I've been working on expanding my imagination and felt I was doing okay, but perhaps I need to apply myself more. We have something in common, you and I: both of us have escaped the classroom! Good news all round; I never felt at home there; I'm better suited to the garden really; no one to instruct, no need to direct anyone's attention, no requirement to assess anyone's abilities; you can see why I'm so happy out of doors, especially school doors. Bonehead? Not for me to say, really. If that was the general consensus, I'd have to take the charge seriously; as it is, only you have levelled it, so I'll suspend judgement till such a time as the title becomes commonly applied.

            • Mack

              Good reply, Robert.

              All the best


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    6 days ago
  • Depositor compensation scheme protects Kiwis’ money
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    6 days ago
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  • Speech at 10th meeting of the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty
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    7 days ago
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    7 days ago
  • Christchurch Call Initiative on Algorithmic Outcomes
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  • JOINT PR: Trans-Tasman Cooperation on disaster management
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    7 days ago
  • More transparency, less red-tape for modernised charities sector
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    7 days ago
  • Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day Bill passes into law
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    1 week ago
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  • National minute of silence for Queen Elizabeth II
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  • Speech to the Climate Change and Business Conference
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    1 week ago
  • Kieran McAnulty to attend Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
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    2 weeks ago
  • Trade and Agriculture Minister to travel to India and Indonesia
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    2 weeks ago