With the autumnal colour display in Arrowtown coming to an end as we move towards winter, now seems like a good time to talk about the Arrowtown Wilding Strategy, the project that aims to stop the spread of wilding trees while retaining our autumn colour.
Steered by the AVA, the wilding programme came out of the public consultations that formed the Shaping Our Future Arrowtown Community Visioning Report. The strategy, a response to community concerns about the loss of autumnal colours to wilding conifer spread, has been operating since 2017 using contractors and volunteers. To date, several hundred thousand wilding conifers have been removed from the hillsides behind Arrowtown.
The aim has been to pull back the wilding spread towards the town itself. Due to the sensitivity of the surrounding faces, many of these trees were removed by ground crews or individually lanced by helicopter to ensure no surrounding trees were affected. Volunteers have spent many thousands of hours removing wilding trees from the surrounding hillsides, including trees appearing along the Brow Peak ridgeline. This has ensured ongoing native regeneration and biodiversity can be protected into the future, and the autumnal colours not lost to the conifer spread.
The programme is currently in its clean up phase, with certain areas being retreated as needed as younger trees grow up that were missed originally. The visual sensitivity of the larch face above Bush Creek is understood and there is currently no plan in place to remove these trees, nor the funding to do so. However, the environmental and legal requirements to remove invasive species should be understood, and robust community and stakeholder discussion undertaken about how best to deal with this face.