Seriousness of dumping old Christmas trees highlighted by DOC

The decorations are long-gone, now Christmas trees around the country are destined for the dump.

But it's the method of disposal causing headaches for the Department of Conservation.

DOC’s Keith Briden says people often dispose of their Christmas trees out of town, where wilding pines remains an invasive pest.

"People do go for trips out into the countryside, they may just take a bag of garden rubbish which may have seeds in it, or it may have other garden rubbish or seeds that cause us problems," he says.

He admits DOC’s $16 million programme to combat the infestation isn't helped by post-Christmas throwaways.

"If left [to grow], wilding pines would cover 20 per cent of New Zealand within 20-25 years."

Last year Auckland faced a spate of illegal disposals, with trees strewn across pavements, stuffed into wheelie bins, and even lodged up into larger trees.

It's estimated the dumpings cost Auckland ratepayers more than $1 million a year.

But Auckland Council's resource recovery manager George Fietje says the message seems to be getting through this year, with less than five reports to council of illegally-dumped trees.

Briden's advice to those looking to get rid of their tree is to "cut it up and put it in your green bin".

Wellington City Council offers free tree disposals for the month of January at its Southern Landfill.

Authorities are urging people to dispose of the trees properly. Source: 1 NEWS