Council's tree-felling deeds sanctioned by tree experts

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 11:01 04/07/2014
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PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
GOUGED: Endeavour Ave has lost 145 trees.

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Tree cull horrifies Hamilton residents

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Hamilton City Council's roadside tree massacre in Flagstaff was likely a good long-term move, according to experts canvassed by the Waikato Times.

Flagstaff residents were outraged after nearly 200 20-year old liquidambar trees were felled by Hamilton City Council staff, including 145 removed from Endeavour Ave and 50 from Discovery Drive and surrounding streets.

The work was part of the city council's renewal and replacement programme.

Endeavour Ave will be replanted with acer, a type of maple tree, in the coming months. Felling will continue in Huntington, Fairview Downs and Fitzroy, Te Rapa, Nawton and Bader over the coming weeks.

Waikato Tree Trust member Antoinette van der Weerden backed the council over getting rid of the liquidambar trees.

"Yes, there is the aspect that the liquidambars are living things, but they were in a compromised situation," she said. "They are a tree that are known to lift footpaths with their root systems and they drop leaves and balls of fruit, which can be a hazard for elderly people and the disabled and prams."

While it had to be acknowledged that there was a strong relationship between streetside trees and property values, she said there were a myriad of other considerations including the suitability of soils and nearby infrastructure such as telephone cables and sewerage pipes, which the roots could also interfere with.

The tree trust is an advocacy body that helps and advises on tree-related issues, including legal problems.

Waikato University environmental planning lecturer and former town planner Kate Mackness also gave the thumbs up to the felling.

"From a town planning point of view, under the resource management act the council has responsibility for the sustainable management of resources. That includes trees.

"It's also responsible for enabling wellbeing and safety, shade and shelter."

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker earlier told the Times the council was committed to maintaining the city's leafy character.

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