Plan to make Avon river red zone a native forest park
Christchurch's abandoned Avon River red zone could become a green oasis if plans to turn it into a native forest park come to fruition.
Community group Greening the Red Zone has unveiled its master plan for transforming vast tracts of former residential land on the edges of the Avon river into wetland and native forests habitats that would help bring some of New Zealand's native species back from the brink.
Outlining the group's plan to the Christchurch City Council during the penultimate day of hearings on the draft Long Term Plan (LTP), Greening the Red Zone chairman Ashley Campbell said returning the Avon River red zone to a large native forest park was an opportunity Christchurch could not afford to miss.
Campbell said it would help protect the eastern suburbs from flooding, improve air quality and bring millions of dollars a year in health benefits. It would also be a source of civic pride for years to come and draw visitors to the city.
"The Avon River red zone provides an opportunity we will never have again to return habitat and restore biodiversity, helping to bring some of our endangered species back from the brink," Campbell said.
Landscape architect Mark Huxtable, who has worked on the master plan, said the forest would be a living laboratory that would help to educate children and visitors about nature.
"We would not just be creating a forest park; we would be creating a ribbon of green."
Cr Paul Lonsdale said the concept was fantastic. "I think the work you have done is awesome."
Greening the Red Zone though is not the only group with bold plans for the area. The Water for Life Trust is pushing create a Kiwi version of the UK's Eden Project where a large tract of land in Cornwall has been turned into a sustainable, green, nature-focused tourist attraction and research centre.
READ MORE: Christchurch Eden Project suggested
In its Long Term Plan submission, the trust said it was working diligently to secure access to red-zoned residential land east of the city and its preferred site was the Avonside Loop. It had developed its ideas to a concept level and had recently secured support for a pre-feasibility study in preparation for a full business case once a suitable site for development was confirmed.