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Tree felling case highlights need for care

Tree felling case highlights need for care

‘Check before you chop’ – this is the advice from the New Zealand Arboricultural Association (NZ Arb) in response to a recent publicised tree felling.

The Kapiti Coast District Council’s decision to prosecute an Otaki couple for felling indigenous bush on their property is a reminder that local councils may, in specific circumstances, protect individual trees and areas of significant or vulnerable bush on private property, despite recent reforms to the Resource Management Act.

Chris Walsh, NZ Arb President, advises any property owner wishing to fell trees or modify bush to engage with their local council planners beforehand, so they can ascertain whether any restrictions apply. 

“Arboriculture is a largely unregulated industry in New Zealand, however many local councils have their own tree rules,” says Walsh.  “Given this, it’s important to check the situation in a particular area before undertaking tree work and get advice from a reputable arborist, such as a member of NZ Arb.”

As the industry’s professional body, NZ Arb members are required to adhere to a clear code of conduct and appropriate professional standards, and would be expected to be familiar with any local tree felling restrictions.  Property owners can contact NZ Arb via www.nzarb.org.nz to be informed which contractors in their local area are Association members.  The organisation also runs an ‘Approved Contractor Scheme’ – these contractors have undergone a rigorous vetting process and need to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards to retain their status. 

“By engaging one of our members or an Approved Contractor, property owners can expect to receive accurate advice on both the local regulations and appropriate tree care,” says Walsh.

NZ Arb does not have the full detail of the Otaki case, which is still before courts; however it notes the trees in question were within a regionally significant ecological site and an 'acutely threatened' landscape that has been identified and mapped by the Council.  The organisation also understands in areas such as the Manawatu Plains, where only 4% of the land retains its indigenous vegetation cover, local authorities will usually take steps to protect the remainder. 

Walsh adds: “As this case highlights, seeking appropriate regulatory and professional advice before taking action can prevent these unfortunate situations arising.”


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