Esplanade trees will live again in Wildbase Recovery aviaries

Mature trees at Victoria Esplanade are being felled to make room for Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery. Terry ...
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Mature trees at Victoria Esplanade are being felled to make room for Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery. Terry O'Rourke from Treescape wields the chainsaw.

Timber from exotic Lebanese cedar and oak trees sacrificed to make way for Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery will be used in new aviaries at Palmerston North's Victoria Esplanade.

The nine trees near the Education Centre, which also has to be removed, are being felled this week after a morning blessing on Thursday.

They needed to go before work could start on the new centre, where the public will be able to watch wild creatures recovering after care at the newly-opened Wildbase Hospital at Massey University.

It will be New Zealand's only dedicated native wildlife recovery facility, with purpose-built aviaries and a physiotherapy ward.

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City council senior property and parks planner Aaron Phillips said the project team recognised people cared about the trees, which had been part of the Esplanade for more than 50 years.

"We've worked really hard to keep the old cedar and oak trees, but in the end, they must be cleared.

"The exotics are simply too big to fit inside the aviaries and there is also a greater risk from predators if those trees remain."

The trees are being cleared by Treescape New Zealand, working for free on the project.

Treescape business manager Kevin Birdsall said the company was delighted to contribute expertise and equipment to a community project committed to protecting New Zealand wildlife.

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Once the trees have come down, they will be milled, and the timber will be used in the new facility.

Hughes Joinery would be crafting the timber into the exterior cladding louvres that would be a feature of the new Powerco Education Centre.

Some of the timber would be used to make perches inside the aviaries.

Phillips said local Rangitane carvers would assess the quality of the heartwood with a view to creating pou and atua features inside Wildbase Recovery if it was suitable for carving.

The exotic trees would be replaced with native trees more in keeping with the natural habitat of the wildlife passing through the recovery centre before their release back into the wild.

Meantime, Phillips said visitors to the Esplanade needed to take care while the arborists were working on the trees.

There are cordons around the site.

"Please respect them," said Phillips.

Tenders have been called for building Wildbase Recovery, including landscaping and the 14 separate aviaries, with a closing date of March 30.

The project is run by the Wildbase Recovery Community Trust, Massey University, Palmerston North City Council and Rangitane o Manawatu.

The facility will be built and owned by the council and co-managed by Massey's veterinary school.

Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery is expected to open next year after taking an estimated 10 months to build.

 - Stuff

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