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Tree Prosecution Serves as Warning

Auckland City Council - City Scene

Auckland City has successfully prosecuted a tree contractor for illegally cutting down native trees.

Punivalu Alefaio was found guilty of the four charges brought against him, and has been sentenced. Appearing before Judge Sheppard in the Auckland District Court, Mr Alefaio pleaded guilty to four charges of damaging or destroying protected trees in the Epsom area in October 1998, without Resource Consent. Mr Alefaio was a director of Dependable Tree Services Ltd, which has since gone into liquidation.

The sentencing imposed requires Mr Alefaio to pay $500 to Auckland City as a contribution to the costs of prosecution and $130 court costs. A sentence of community service was also imposed.

The case involved damage done to protected trees on four properties, where two protected Karaka trees, an Indian Bead tree, and a Coral Tree were destroyed. As well as this damage, Mr Alefaio's firm also severely cut a further 10 protected Karaka trees, a Puriri tree and a Lacebark tree.

All these trees were protected under the Auckland City Proposed District Plan 1993. Damaging or destroying a tree protected by the District Plan without resource consent is an offence under Section 9 and 338 of the Resource Management Act 1991.

The Act provides for penalties including up to two years' jail and fines up to $200,000 per offence.

Protected trees are generally those over six metres in height or over 600mm in girth (i.e. circumference) measured at 1.4 metres above ground level. In the case of trees with multiple trunks, such as the Pohutukawa, the girth measurement is the aggregate of all trunk measurements over 250mm.

For more information on the removal or pruning of trees please contact Auckland City Environments staff at 35 Graham Street.

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