Plantings aim to stem tide of tree felling

An ambitious plan to increase the number of trees on local publicly owned land has begun.

At its final meeting last year, the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board adopted the Council’s Urban Ngahere Action Plan, which aims to increase tree cover on public land by two percent in 10 years. It may not sound much, but it will require planting and nurturing at least 120 new trees in local parks, sportsfields, playgrounds and on roadsides annually.

It is hoped that this will mitigate the rapid tree loss seen in this area to date – the biggest in Auckland.

Hibiscus and Bays (Hibiscus Coast and upper North Shore) experienced a net loss (over both public and private land) of 129ha of tree cover in just three years, 2013-2016. This was by far the highest in Auckland, with the next closest being an 82ha loss. The high level of loss is expected to continue on private land with more development, and new planting on public land is a way to offset this.

However, with around 70 percent of trees located on private land, a big challenge lies ahead.

Presenting the final plan to the local board, Council’s Urban Forest senior advisor, Howell Davies, said that because the proposed increased planting will only be on public land, it will be difficult to achieve an overall increase in tree cover, as so many trees are being felled on private land.

“Our goal is no net loss of the current tree cover, with a regional target to increase tree cover to 30 percent,” Howell says.

While there are moves within Government to change the Resource Management Act to restore some tree protection, in the meantime the wholesale felling of trees by developers and homeowners continues.

Currently local tree canopy coverage in the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board area is estimated to be 24 percent of the total land area and Council aims to increase this to 26 percent by 2030.

In 2021/2022, the local board has set aside $25,000 for the project.

Planting is set to begin in June and Council aims to inform residents of opportunities to join in the planting, via letter drops, social media and advertising.

Residents can also log a “new tree request”, including the exact location where replacement planting may be needed, by calling Council on 09 301 0101 or making contact via Council’s social media channels.

Backstory: October 2, 2019; August 5, 2020.

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