Residents upset over removal of Titirangi kauri trees' protection
An Auckland group is calling for the protection of two "vulnerable" kauri trees.
The trees on Paturoa Rd in Titirangi were standing without any protection after Auckland Council removed its Significant Ecological Area (SEA) status in 2014.
SEA is an area of significant indigenous vegetation or a significant habitat of indigenous fauna protected by a local government.
The Tree Council, an Auckland tree protection group, was demanding to know why council didn't reinstate SEA after more than two years.
* Calls to shut large Auckland regional park to stop kauri extinction
* Call for mass action to stop kauri extinction in the Waitakere Ranges
* Kauri dieback is rampant in the Waitakere Ranges, new study shows
In a letter to Auckland mayor Phil Goff in August, Tree Council chairman Sean Freeman said the SEA removal left the two kauri trees in a vulnerable position because they could be removed if a developer was granted resource consent.
"At a time when the council should be extending its powers to protect kauri, which are fast becoming an endangered species in many parts of the Waitākere Ranges, a decision such as this is incomprehensible," Freeman said.
Auckland Council's general manager plans and places John Duguid said the removal of the SEA in 2014 was due to a submission on the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan from nearby residents on 40 and 42 Paturoa Rd.
The residents had applied for a resource consent to remove vegetation on their property and on the adjacent road reserve.
"The resource consent did not allow for the removal of vegetation within a small area of SEA within the road reserve, however, retaining this area as a SEA would have been inconsistent with the mapping of SEAs in the Auckland Unitary Plan," Duguid said.
He said despite the lack of the trees' SEA status, they were still protected because trees more than 4 metres high in a road reserve could not be removed without a resource consent.
However, residents said they believed the two trees deserved more protection and have called on council to reverse its decision.
"I walk past the trees nearly everyday and they are spectacular and beautiful to look at," Dinah Morris said.
"I was absolutely shocked that they aren't given the protection they deserve. Kauri are native New Zealand tree species and they're already under threat."
Duguid said Auckland Council was considering reinstating the two kauri trees' SEA protection after receiving several requests from members of the public.