Getting rid of wildings

Information on common wilding conifer control methods and guidelines for good practice.

How we deal with wilding conifer infestations depends on where they are and on how large and dense the infestation is. We also consider the surrounding environment - and how easy it is to get to the site.

Removing wildings by hand

In areas that are easy to access, seedlings and small trees can be pulled out by hand, using tools (such as loppers). Chainsaws may be used for larger trees (by a qualified professional).


Rather than cutting down large trees, it is often better to ‘drill-and-fill’. We drill holes into a tree’s trunk and fill the holes with herbicide. This is a good option on difficult terrain where felling is unsafe.

By Helicopter

One of the biggest challenges we have with wilding conifers is that they often grow on remote and mountainous terrain.

We use Helicopters to deliver herbicides known as Aerial Foliar Spray Application (AFSA). 

  • AFSA Boom Spraying is a cost effective approach that treats large dense infestations. It is best used where there is minimal risk of damage to nearby vegetation.
  • AFSA Spot Spraying is more targeted.  We spray herbicide directly onto specific trees that are densely grouped together.  This technique is used to avoid risk to surrounding vegetation. 

Good practice guidelines

The National Programme is researching control methods and developing guidelines for good practice.  These summarise standards expected for safe wilding conifer control.

The guidelines listed below can be found in our Publications page:

  • AFSA Aerial Foliar Spray Application - these guidelines are currently under review
  • ABBA Aerial Basal Bark Application
  • Ground Based Herbicide Injection - Drill and Fill

We welcome your feedback on these guides.  Please email us at