Wilding pines in the Sugar Loaf Scenic Reserve are set for the chop from today, the Central Otago District Council has confirmed.

The $90,000 job will be paid for by the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group out of its share of a $100 million Government fund set up to control wilding pines, which are listed as a weed pest by the Otago Regional Council.

The Cromwell Community Board is chipping in with $20,0000.

Cromwell’s Sugar Loaf mountain is a wilding pine seed source and council parks and recreation manager Gordon Bailey said the wilding conifer control group was keen to get the job done.

Seedlings of mixed age were already spreading down the slope towards the Lowburn inlet and would continue to do so if not controlled, he said.

“Council has responsibilities as a landowner to stop the spread of pest species including wilding conifers.  We are also conscious of preserving and protecting the values and views of this well-known scenic reserve,” Mr Bailey said.

Contractors will mainly be working on two areas on the Sugar Loaf _ an old shelter belt at the Lowburn end of the reserve, and the Lowburn Collie Club end of the reserve.

Several conifers dotted throughout the reserve would also be removed, including some near electricity lines.

Three large trees up a steep hill cannot be removed for safety reasons and will be drilled and poisoned instead, before being progressively removed, Mr Bailey said.

Some trees are close to State Highway 8, so traffic controls will be in place.

The Cromwell Community Board has approved work to begin today and it should take about 10 days to fell and process the trees.

The Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group has engaged Mike Hurring Logging and Contracting.

Meanwhile, the regional council is making progress on other wilding control programmes.

They include almost 6800 hectares of aerial and ground control of conifers this month near Luggate.

ORC environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard said good progress continued to be made for the Whakatipu and Central Otago areas under the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme .

The ORC’s wilding pine projects were being paid from a $22.5 million Jobs for Nature fund, which also funds wallaby control, private land biodiversity and the Te Hakapupu/ Pleasant River restoration projects, Ms sUGAHoward said.