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Dangerous Park Trees To Come Out

Old trees regarded as a potential danger are to be removed soon from Thomson Park, North New Brighton, and the area replanted

They have created some controversy in past months as some residents have agitated to keep them.

But the Christchurch City Council has decided, after lengthy consultations with residents, that they should be felled and new planting undertaken.

Most pines and macrocarpas in the park are at least 70 years old and past their useful life.

Trees and large branches have fallen near private properties and in the children's playground in the past 12 months.

The City Council's Parks Unit views the trees as a health and safety issue.

The conifers also function poorly as a windbreak for the park as the trunks of the trees are either clear or clad only in dead branches up to three quarters of the height of the trees.

The Council's arboriculturist, Walter Fielding-Cotterell, says the Council has compromised over the first suggestion of mass felling all the trees along the Marine Parade boundary and now selected-group felling will be carried out.

These groups consist of the trees on the eastern and northern side of the playground and those trees within a 25-m distance of Marine Parade properties at the south end of the park.

Trees that will be retained have received remedial pruning to minimise the risk of branch breakage and uprooting by winds.

A replacement-planting plan for the park, which has been modified in accordance with the wishes of the residents, will be implemented immediately after the felling operation.

Over the past year about 1400 households have been informed by the Council about the tree removal that led to a petition opposing the proposals and a series of public meetings to resolve the matter.

An opinion on the condition of the trees was also sought from an independent arborist, Nick Derrick.

He said that nearly all trees in the area were average to poor quality and with a low useful life expectancy, some presenting safety issues.

He thought the park badly needed upgrading.

Mr Fielding-Cotterell says the removal of old conifers (and their heavy shading effect) will encourage better winter use of the play facilities and provide opportunities for landscape improvement in the park.

"Health and safety issues and the need to replace ageing trees with new plantings to provide for the future are the crux of the matter," he says.

Further information: Walter Fielding-Cotterell: 03-371 1630 or 025 549 287.

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