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Council catches tree trimmer

March 1, 2005

Council catches tree trimmer

A Birkenhead man has been fined $7000 for having more than three metres cut off a mature kauri tree in a public park to get a better view.

The contractor he employed to top the protected tree in LeRoys Bush Reserve was caught in the act by a neighbour, who immediately notified the North Shore City Council.

Ian Gillies pleaded guilty in the Environment Court in December to the cutting of a notable tree in contravention of a rule in the city's District Plan.

He was sentenced yesterday, and given what is believed to be the largest fine ever handed down to an individual for damaging a protected tree in the Auckland region.

North Shore City's parks manager, Andrew Rutledge, says the kauri tree, on the slopes of Little Shoal Bay, was protected because of its local significance.

"The rules are there to stop people destroying trees on public land - trees that are there for everyone's enjoyment and that add to our unique environment," he says.

About 3.5m was cut off the top of the 19.5m tree in March last year, and another 2m long branch removed.

"The way the tree has been topped will affect its long-term health and development. It won't die, but it's lost its main growth point and will take time to recover," says Mr Rutledge.

Compliance and monitoring team leader, David Frith, was delighted such a tough penalty had been handed down to Mr Gillies.

"The judge emphasised that it was not acceptable for Mr Gillies to lop the top off a tree to improve his view - at the expense of the public's enjoyment of this bush area," he says.

"The incidence of native trees being cut or killed off is growing across the city, especially along the coast. This lets people know they won't get away with it."

In another case before the court, Premier Tree Services contractor Lolesio Keli has pleaded guilty to topping four exotic trees protected under the District Plan. They were on private property in Torbay and it is not yet known if they will survive.

He will be sentenced in the Auckland District Court this Friday, March 4.

To find out more about rules relating to trees on either public or private land, please contact Actionline on 486 8600.

ENDS

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