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Greater Wellington’ Parks Face The Future

Greater Wellington Regional Council has just endorsed a new ten-year management plan for its regional parks which sets the direction for their evolution over the next decade.

The Toitū Te Whenua Parks Network Plan has at its core climate change action through its forest and wetland restoration work and park restoration and development through partnerships with mana whenua and work with community volunteers.

“This plan outlines changes the people of Wellington have asked Greater Wellington for, so it’s very much an expression of what the community wants; native vegetation restored in the grazed areas of park, better access to and within parks and support for more collaborative work with mana whenua and community” says regional councillor and parks portfolio lead Cr Prue Lamason.

“I’m very confident that it provides the platform for realising the community’s aspirations and hopeful that it will lead to even more people getting out into our beautiful wide open spaces, intimate forests and dramatic coastlines. They are a regional treasure waiting to be discovered.”

Implementing the plan will, over time, deliver multiple benefits including better quality freshwater, and improved biodiversity, adaptive reuses of park buildings and landscape amenity improvements for recreation activities.

“But the most significant changes in the new plan underlie the plan’s theme that everything is connected. We’ve traditionally seen parks primarily as places of recreation and to some extent slowly regenerating native bush. But they are now also seen as being on the front line of Greater Wellington’s contribution to mitigating climate change in what is win-win approach to creating future parkscapes,” says Cr Lamason.

Under the plan Greater Wellington will phase out stock grazing and progressively restore 1350 ha of grazed park land over the next ten years (other than at Battle Hill which is a dedicated farm park), an initiative supported by substantial new investment for park restoration in the draft budget for the 2021-31 Long Term Plan.

It is also additional to the funding allocated to Kaitoke and Queen Elizabeth parks through the Low Carbon Acceleration Fund for the 2020-21 which has been dedicated to developing carbon sinks through reforestation and restoration of wetlands. The outcome will make a real contribution to Greater Wellington’s policy of reaching carbon positivity in 2035.

“It’s very much a case of parks for the people and parks for the planet,” says Cr Lamason.

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