Councils in Auckland and Sydney tackle urban tree decline

Councils tackle urban tree decline

Councils in Auckland and Sydney tackle urban tree decline

Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council and the Waitemata District Council in New Zealand might be oceans apart, but they do share a common concern – the decline of their urban tree canopy due to growing populations and overdevelopment.

Research conducted by Greater Sydney Commission in 2017 showed that some of Sydney’s leafiest areas including Warringah, Hornsby and Willoughby have seen the highest percentage of loss in their urban tree canopy.

Similarly, Waitemata, just north of Auckland in New Zealand, has lost almost 13,000 trees between 2006 and 2016, due to increased private land ownership and high development rates. To combat the decline of their urban forests, local governments are exploring new ways to revive urban greenery in cities.


Auckland greening initiatives

Auckland City Council has launched a new program called ‘urban ngahere,’ meaning ‘network of trees’, which aims to increase city greenery by up to 30 per cent. The program coordinates planting initiatives with members of the local community – like schools, farmers, developers and social groups – to plant and maintain trees across Auckland. These efforts are complimented by a three-pronged strategy that includes interpreting data around tree loss, growing canopy and protecting trees from pests and diseases.

John Mauro, the council’s chief sustainability officer, said that Auckland is one of many large cities under pressure to protect trees against overdevelopment, population growth and other factors like climate change.

“A healthy urban forest enriches our communities, our local economies and our natural environment. Auckland cannot become a world-class city without a great urban forest,” he said.

“Some of the key challenges to our urban forest that we are monitoring include; population growth and urbanisation, ongoing issues with weed and pest control, diseases such as kauri dieback and myrtle rust and factors caused by climate change,” Mr Mauro said.

Another exciting initiative in New Zealand is the Million Trees project, which aims to plant one million native trees and scrubs across Auckland in three years. This partnership between Mayor Phil Goff and the New Zealand Department of Corrections has already facilitated the planting of 750,000 trees to date, with inmates managing tree planting and maintenance.


Sydney greening initiatives

Across the sea, the Sydney Northern Beaches’ Council has joined Auckland City Council in exploring innovative ways to counteract development and increase urban tree canopy.

Compelled by a recent population boom, the council has launched a draft Urban Tree Canopy Plan to protect tree cover in the Sydney Metropolitan area. The plan aims to ease the impacts of Sydney’s growing population by planting 5,000 new trees each year, plus introducing an offset program that will plant two new trees for every one that is removed.

Michael Regan, Northern Beaches Mayor, said the plan will be supported monitoring the tree population, and encouraging support from the Sydney community.

“The immediate focus will be on collating accurate baseline data to allow us to monitor the actions of the plan and ultimately measure how successful we are in protecting and maintaining a healthy and diverse canopy cover,” he said.

“Engaging our community in protecting and enhancing our urban trees will also be a critical factor in achieving the objectives of the Urban Tree Canopy Plan.”


Independent groups take action in light of Auckland’s urban forest crisis

Citygreen - Independent groups take action in light of Auckland’s urban forest crisis

Independent groups take action in light of Auckland’s urban forest crisis:

A recent study has found that Auckland has just 6 per cent of its urban forest left, with over half situated on private land. Only 15 per cent is protected by Auckland Council’s ‘Schedule of Notable Trees’, which is the only remaining tool for tree protection since changes to the Resource Management Act in 2012. Study Co-Author, Dr Margaret Stanley, of the University of Auckland, said the city’s urban forest is in, “…a really urgent state of play.”

The benefits of urban forests are clear, with Auckland lagging behind the rest of the world in protecting them. “The study shows the schedule is failing to adequately protect unique native tree species and we need to do much better if we are to protect what is left of the city’s urban forest,” Dr Stanley said.

Charmaine Wiapo overseas a Ngati Whatua-led project to return an area of land at Bastion Point back to native bush. She says Auckland’s urban forest has become, “very fragmented.” In response, 200,000 trees have been planted to link up to tree corridors elsewhere in the city, providing food stock for native birds that fly between them.

Forest and Bird is another group taking action in the face of the crisis. As, “New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation that works to preserve natural heritage and native species,” the group is working on a wildlife network to connect urban habitats in the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges and Hauraki Gulf Islands. The group is also aiming to have trees with ecological value added to the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse, agreed tree protection rules had taken, “…a bit of a hammering” over recent years. Thankfully, there a numerous independent groups stepping up to the plate – both to protect what remains and to create much-needed new urban forests.

photo credit . Albert Park, Auckland . Michael Zimmer

The New Zealand Tree Project Captures Last Forest Frontier

Citygreen - The New Zealand Tree Project Captures Last Forest Frontier

The New Zealand Tree Project Captures Last Forest Frontier:

The New Zealand Tree Project is an innovative film and photography venture that captures imagery of majestic New Zealand trees and native podocarp forests from viewpoints not experienced from the forest floor. The project was formed by four passionate tree lovers: Catherine Kirby (University of Waikato Science and Research Support Officer), Jen Sanger (Plant Ecologist), Steven Pearce (Photographer), and Andrew Harrison (Climber, Technician, and Tree Climbing Instructor at Wintec).

Together, with the help of sponsors who provided funds, climbing ropes, and camera equipment, the group captured the Pureora Forest, northwest of Lake Taupo, chosen for its rich history and amazing trees. By using innovative mediums such as time-lapse, hyper-lapse and 3D video, coupled with custom built camera rigs, drones and 50m long cable cameras, the group was able to create one-of-a-kind footage of the forest from groundbreaking new angles.

Jen Sanger said, “The centrepiece of the project is a tree portrait of an ancient and beautiful rimu. A custom made camera rig that ran the entire 40m vertical height of the rimu was painstaking installed by suspending a platform from two adjacent trees. This allowed for the camera rig containing two Canon 5D MkIII cameras to be slowly lowered with a series of photos taken every 50cm. The photos were then stitched together using Photoshop to produce an image from a level viewpoint without distortion. This method allows for a super high resolution image that captures the true glory of the tree, rather than a distorted and incomplete view that is so common when we are limited to photography from the forest floor. This is never seen before stuff. The project will also feature documentary-style interviews with iwi, scientists, bird-watchers, hunters, and even loggers.”

Set to launch officially at the end of this year in Hamilton, New Zealand, the project team is working to create an exhibition for museums around New Zealand and is looking for donations or sponsorship.

In 2016, the group will set its sight on Tasmania, with a similar project planned for southern Tasmania. The Tasmanian Tree Project will capture a portrait of the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), the tallest hardwood tree species in the entire world, and second tallest tree species after the Californian Redwood.

For more information, visit The New Zealand Tree Project or The Tasmanian Tree Project.

photo credit: Tasmania Mount Field Russell Falls . wikipedia commons

The View From Above

Auckland Sky Tower

We’ll take a break from our usual discussion to show you some remarkable shots from one of our colleagues from Greenleaf in the UK.


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