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Save the Trees!

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 pm, February 22nd, 2013 - 41 comments
Categories: Environment, same old national - Tags:

Titirangi Tree little muddy creek

The Government is currently attempting for a second time to remove blanket tree protection from Auckland’s district plan.

In 2009 it tried through changes to the Resource Management Act to do the same thing. The language used was not clear but the intent was that any tree or group of trees on an urban section with a building and reticulated water and sewerage could be felled unless it was identified in a district plan.

These changes could have affected bush clad areas such as Titirangi and Laingholm significantly. The areas are deemed stability sensitive and the trees and bush cover play a major role in holding banks together and preventing erosion. Without the trees the area’s stability would be severely compromised. Allowing felling without restriction would have resulted in a gradual but inevitable change to the area’s bush coverage.

After the change was enacted Auckland Council sought a declaration about the effects of the change and asked the Environment Court if trees identified in the District Plan as being within the Bush Living Environment (mainly Titirangi and Laingholm) fell within the definition of “groups of trees”. The Court said “yes” and gave some very helpful guidance on how to manage tree rules using the District Plan. The effect of the decision was to preserve the protection afforded to the bush clad areas by the existing District Plan rules.

The Government obviously did not like this and has introduced a bill which negates the effect of the Environment Court decision. If enacted the changes will clarify that a tree protection rule can only apply to a tree or group of trees that are specifically identified in a schedule to a district plan by street address or legal description of the land, and that a group of trees means a cluster, grove, or line of trees that are located on the same or adjacent allotments identified by precise location. The decision directly overrides the effect of the Environment Court declaration and is obviously aimed at it.

The rule prevents species of trees from being protected. For instance a rule that “all Kauri over the height of 2 metres living in Titirangi are protected” or “all Pohutukawa on Takapuna’s coast” will not be allowed.

The provision is frankly bizarre. The RMA allows local communities to make all sorts of decisions about all sorts of matters. Yet it is intended a community in a tree clad area is not allowed to make protective rules about the things that give the area its character.

Trees are wonderful things. They give us shade and stability, character and calmness. They make Titirangi and Laingholm special places to live in. But if the Government has its way we will not be allowed to protect the items that make these areas so special.

It makes you wonder what they have against trees.

If you wish to do something about this submissions on the Resource Management Law Reform Bill close on February 28, 2013.  I have prepared a draft submission that you may wish to use and adapt.  And there is an online petition you can sign up to.

– Greg Presland

41 comments on “Save the Trees!”

  1. Rogue Trooper 1

    :(

  2. cricklewood 2

    Working as a horticulturalist I can say that blanket protection orders leave a lot to be desired especially in there current form where they over reach somewhat and often lead to confusion or homeowners having to fork out loads of money.
    As an example I have a client who has to get a professional approved by the council (me) to trim his Totara’s.
    Sounds OK doesn’t it? However the Totara’s in question are actually a 3m high hedge that has been in existence and clipped by the resident for many years up until a council official saw him doing it and stopped to check his credentials. He was told it was protected as a native and he must have a qualified person do it!

    I would call this an opportunity to catalogue and assess Aucklands trees. Yes it is a big job but it would provide work for a large number of people and provide an excellent record of the Tree diversity and spread.

    Also I find in the most part homeowners like to keep there trees so I hold little fear of residents getting to carried away.

    Surely we can find some sort of workable middle ground rather than the present and proposed system nether of which are particularly good

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      He was told it was protected as a native and he must have a qualified person do it!

      And what would it take the home-owner to become qualified?

  3. AmaKiwi 3

    “It makes you wonder what they have against trees.”

    No, it reminds me what they’ve got against any form of democracy, such as local governance.

    All power to the emperor. Hail Caesar.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      +1

      National are following the libertarian view that people should be able to do whatever they like without having to consider the effect of their actions upon others. It is pure oppression and nothing else.

      • karol 3.1.1

        Yes.

        Also, I have heard some people out here in west Auckland complaining about the local government restrictions on cutting down some of the trees on their land. It’s a “It’s my land I should be able to do what I like” attitude. But they are not considering how the trees have an impact on the whole area, not just the piece of land they leased from the ecosystem for as long as. (Ownership of material stuff is never for ever).

        But I think many more have an understanding of how it is one part of a wider landscape.

        • Greg Presland 3.1.1.1

          Agreed Karol.

          It (personal land rights verses community expectations) has been a major issue out west for years. Some think that they should be allowed to do whatever they want with their land and what is on it. Others think that there is a collective obligation to look after all of us and the environment.

          If you allow individuals to unfettered rights to do whatever they want then some bad community results will occur. Local amenity will be lost, land slips will occur because owners cut trees essential for the stability of their neighbour’s land and the quality of the neighbourhood will be degraded.

          My home town of Titirangi is interesting. It is a decile 10 area. But everyone is passionate about their trees. We had a meeting in Titirangi last night with limited advertising with nearly 100 people there and a unanimous resolution was passed seeking blanket tree protection rules remaining.

          David Cunliffe was there and has a good summary of the meeting at http://blog.labour.org.nz/2013/02/22/saving-west-aucklands-trees-again-and-again-and-again/

          • TheContrarian 3.1.1.1.1

            “If you allow individuals to unfettered rights to do whatever they want then some bad community results will occur.”

            This is where Libertarian thinking falls down. The idea that one should can do whatever they wish as long as it doesn’t impact on others freedoms/ability to do as they wish can’t work because the flow on effect means someone will always be affected.

            • Greg Presland 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Agreed Contrarian and dare I say it but sometimes the interests of the community/collective means that individual “freedoms” need to be curtailed. But this a really vexed issue and one of the consequences to bear in mind is that the individual loss may be considerable and the individual gain of someone else not so big but when multiplied across a population may be considerable.

              • TheContrarian

                Indeed, it is a very vexing issue. I like the philosophical idea of libertarianism – indeed, the idea of individual choice about what one does to their bodies, which sex of consenting adults one chooses to be with and which associations one joins or not joins and what one does with their own self is very appealing but the practical side does not correspond to the philosophical ideal.

                It is a difficult one to weigh and certainly very difficult to legislate on.

      • TheContrarian 3.1.2

        National are not libertarian dude

      • TheContrarian 3.1.3

        “people should be able to do whatever they like without having to consider the effect of their actions upon other”

        That would be the complete opposite of libertarianism. Libertarianism advocates being able to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t impact on the freedom of others to do the same.

        Obviously that is completely impractical in practice however the core of libertarian philosophy is everyone is innately free (and selfish/self-interested if you follow early thinkers like John Locke) to do as they wish as long as it does not effect or coerce others.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3.1

          That would be the complete opposite of libertarianism.

          You would think so but a lot of my conversations with libertarians covering this have the libertarians proclaiming that they should be able to do what they like and that others shouldn’t have a say (a lot of them really didn’t like democracy). They got upset when I pointed out that what they were suggesting was oppression of the majority by the minority.

          National are not libertarian dude

          Back in the 1970s they were conservatives with a slight libertarianism. These days I think they’re the opposite. They’ve always been authoritarian though even though they don’t realise it and will reject it. They’ll say that they fully believe in democracy – while taking away democracy (just for a short time of course, even the extension will only be short).

          • TheContrarian 3.1.3.1.1

            “proclaiming that they should be able to do what they like and that others shouldn’t have a say”

            That is true to a point but only applies to their own private property in that others shouldn’t have a say about their personal decisions in their own private affairs as much as themselves don’t have a say in their neighbors affairs as long as either other accept the freedom to do what they will.

            So the theology of libertarianism is not, as you put it, ““people should be able to do whatever they like without having to consider the effect of their actions upon other””, It is the complete opposite. The practice is somewhat different.

          • TheContrarian 3.1.3.1.2

            “They’ve always been authoritarian though even though they don’t realise it and will reject it.”

            Libertarianism is the antonym, philosophically, of authoritarianism.

            • AmaKiwi 3.1.3.1.2.1

              None of us created the things in civilization we most value. They were created by the collective effort and suffering a continuous human community over tens of thousands of years.

              Our responsibility is preserve, protect, and build upon the best from the past so future generations will live in a better world.

              Sorry, Libertarians. You cannot opt out of your personal responsibility to protect and improve the world for future generations. Past generations did for you. Like it or not, you are part of the whole.

  4. muzza 4

    What about those *clouds*, top left of the photo!!!

  5. swan 5

    Not sure why you think people are suddenly going to fell trees on steep slopes? It will quite possibly lead to more trees as people wont be afraid to plant them anymore.

    • felixviper 5.1

      Guess you don’t know the area very well.

      • swan 5.1.1

        I know plenty of people from the Waitakeres and have visited many times. None of them seem to be unusually stupid or have obsessions with chainsaws.

        Where I am from (not so far from the west) also has large numbers of native trees on residential properties that forest and bird tried to have all listed as notable. They failed. I cant say I have noticed a single native tree gone.

    • It could do but we have laws against people assaulting other people even though ordinary reasonable people would never dream of assaulting others.

      Sometimes you need laws to just make sure that those on the edge do not behave bizarrely …

  6. Afewknowthetruth 6

    ‘what they have against trees’ is that trees hamper subdivision and the profiteering that can be achieved via subdivision and cramming ever more people into smaller spaces.

  7. JK 7

    Hullo Greg P – you make a valid point in your argument against the Govt’s changes to the RMA which will remove species of trees particularly special to certain places being protected, and you example the Kauri of Waitakere and the Pohutukawa (now greatly mutilated) along Takapuna Beach.

    This is a sad state of affairs, but what I find really interesting in that non of the posters to your plea for assistance to save our precious trees appear to be interested in making any sort of submission or objection about it to the govt or their local National or Act MP.

    So the posters are all words and no “do” ? ? ? I would have thought such thinking people would be more into “get active” than just sit and talk about things endlessly online! .

  8. Rogue Trooper 8

    Libertarianism can be a sore point
    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/libertine/
    (redeemed)

  9. Oh dear …

    The Government is giving up on trying to eradicate Kauri dieback. They will scale back efforts to try and do something about this terrible disease that is hitting the Kauri in the Waitakere Ranges hard.

    Kauri face possible extinction. To date no Kauri have been found to be immune.

    I understand the amount put into research was pretty minimal ($5 million) but this will no longer be there.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Govt-gives-up-on-eradicating-kauri-disease/tabid/1216/articleID/287875/Default.aspx

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