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Dozens Of Native Trees Cut Down In 'Restoration Project' At Western Springs Forest

Yesterday, while local residents attended an emergency meeting of the Environment Court on the Western Springs Forest, Auckland Council contractors began cutting down native trees in the forest.

“We were gutted to find, at the end of the day’s Court proceedings, which the community attended in good faith, that the Council had just begun cutting the native forest,” said tree protection advocate, Steve Abel.

Among the casualties were a 10-15 year old kauri tree planted by Council and a 25-30 year old pōhutukawa tree. Mature silver ferns (ponga), whekī, as well as over a dozen other self-seeded native trees including red matipo, coprosma, karo and pittosporum were also felled.

Abel says the felled native trees are, “Just the beginning of the total carnage of hundreds of native trees and plants over the coming weeks including the complete eradication of the iconic stand of pines if the operation is not halted.”

The trees are being cut down to build a machinery track and processing areas in the forest for the planned felling of over 200 pine trees that form the forest’s canopy because they have been deemed unsafe. The project is slated to cost 1.7 million dollars.

Local residents have been calling for a low-interference management plan that would allow the existing native forest to remain and for removal of the few pines that pose an intolerable risk to park users rather than every last one.

“The council’s current plan suits the mindset of foresters and tree cutting companies, who want to feed their chainsaws and chippers as much wood as they can, but it is terrible for the ecology and the climate. The project discounts the amazing naturally-restoring native understorey and the significant amenity values the pines themselves provide, including habitat for native birds and insects, carbon sequestration, and wind and erosion protection.”

“This plan will destroy the character of the Western Springs Forest which is Auckland’s tallest inner-city forest and is visible from many parts of Tāmaki Makaurau,” says Abel. “It must be halted until a low-interference restoration plan is developed with mana whenua and the local community.”

“Our city has seen a rampage of mature tree destruction already in 2021, including the cutting down of the native grove at Canal Road in Avondale. If they are serious about their Climate Emergency declaration, and the Urban Ngahere Strategy, Auckland Council needs to stop being part of the problem. They need to listen to the community and halt the felling of Western Springs Forest.”

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