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Source: Auckland Council

Plans for a regenerating native forest in Western Springs Lakeside Te Wai Ōrea Park will be progressed following a decision made by members of Waitematā Local Board to remove 198 exotic pine trees.

The pines, aged around 95 years old, are in poor health and approximately 31 are dead. Auckland Council has been monitoring the pines since 2005, documenting the degeneration of the stand which originally comprised around 700 trees.

The area of the park where the pine trees are located has been closed since April 2018 due to potential health and safety risks from the pines.

Resource consent was granted in 2019, following an appeal to the Environment Court, for the removal of the pine tree stand, with removal of the pine trees enabling delivery of the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project.

Auckland Council engaged the Tree Consultancy Company (TCC) to provide an independent assessment of the pine trees including further independent technical reports from Dr Rien Visser University of Canterbury and Bioresearchers.

The stand of pine trees will be removed using findings and methods identified by Professor Visser in his independent report, to greatly reduce damage to regenerating bush while complying with the resource consent conditions.

Board chair Richard Northey says removal of the pine trees, and the most appropriate way to remove them, was considered extensively by the board.

Removing trees is something we don’t take lightly, but we also have to think about public safety and the long-term health of the forest. Our decision means that the restoration project can get underway and future generations will be able to go into this area and enjoy a healthy, native forest.”

The restoration project will see the area returned to native forest and aligns with the original objective of the Western Springs Management Plan 1995.

The new native forest will include plants and trees like pūriri, taraire and tānekaha and will provide native habitat for a range of wildlife including tui, grey warbler, and silvereye. The project will see small cleared areas replanted immediately after the removals.

Chair Northey says the local community would be very welcome to participate in restoration work and planting and that track and forest development plans will be developed with the community.

“Our vision is that the native forest area will be used by schools and tertiary institutions for learning outside the classroom.

“We’d love to see projects like restoration case studies, citizen science and ecological monitoring, happening in the area.

“We want the community and schools to be involved in the initial planting and then have on-going involvement in plant and animal pest management.”

It’s anticipated that removal of the pine trees will begin early 2021, with public access expected to reopen around mid-2021. Removal of the pine trees and planting of new native trees is expected to take around two months.

Find out more about the background of the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project.

For more information, email westernsprings@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

MIL OSI