Calls for Auckland Council to do more to protect trees

Auckland Sports Photography

These pecan trees in Avondale were 80 years old.

An environmentalist says Auckland Council's online mapping system of protected trees is a shambles. 

Avondale resident Robin Brehmer said this led to the accidentally axing of three protected trees in her Auckland suburb in September.

The mistake could have been avoided if the GPS position of the 80-year-old pecan trees had been accurate on the council's system, she said.

The three trees were believed to be 80-years-old.

The three trees were believed to be 80-years-old.

Brehmer said the council needed to put clear signs on trees to indicate their protected status.

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"The reality is once you have the chainsaws going, nothing much can be done." 

The three trees on the left were cut down due to mistakes in the Auckland Council's mapping system.

The three trees on the left were cut down due to mistakes in the Auckland Council's mapping system.

Plans were underway to address the problems with the Auckland Council's online mapping system of protected tress in Auckland. 

Auckland Council was also looking at turning the wood from the felled trees into a public installation.

The trees in Avondale were chopped down due to an error in the online mapping system. 

Auckland Council had been approached by the property owner to check if the trees were scheduled.

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While the trees are listed in the Auckland Unitary Plan at the correct address, an error in the online maps meant the trees were inadvertently recorded as being on a neighbouring property.

The council therefore advised the property owner the trees were not on the schedule, when in fact they were.

There are fears the same mistake could happen again.  

Information about two-thirds of trees in the suburb of Rosebank was incorrect, Brehmer said.

The notable tree schedule was not user-friendly and hard to locate on the council's website, and the PDF list contained thousands of trees and was more than 120 pages long, she said.

The website should allow users to search by area, street, tree ID number and type, she said.

Auckland Council confirmed it was aware of errors in the schedule of notable trees.

Council acting general manager plans and places Celia Davison said the loss of the trees was an unfortunate mistake. 

"We have had some discussions with members of the community in respect to contributing to the costs of milling some of the timber to potentially be used in a community installation or something similar."

Davison said council was improving its practices, working on updating the noted trees schedule more regularly, and  preparing a plan change to address the inconsistencies in the schedule.

The changes would be notified in 2018.  

​A notable tree is a tree or group of trees that a community or nation regards as being of special importance, according to the Auckland Council website.

 - Stuff


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