Where are your trees, Auckland?

19 Dec 2017

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The 23 December 2017 Listener reports that, in the last five years, Aucklanders have chopped down a third of their trees, and that 90% of what is left is at risk of also being cut down. The implications for bird life, the health and beauty of the city are of great concern; urban New Zealand has as much responsibility as rural New Zealand for sustainably looking after the environment.

In that same period of time, farmers and growers have planted millions of trees, and hundreds of millions of plants, largely beside waterways in riparian strips. Many of our growing families have been on their land for generations - some as many as six. Passing the land on in good health to the next generation is one of their most important drivers; sustainable farming and nurturing the land are key components of their businesses. 

So, in contrast to what is happening in Auckland City, our rural sector is leading the way for future generations.

The Listener is calling for a National Tree Policy. What the Listener does not know is that there is, on a family by family, rural enterprise by rural enterprise basis, a Rural Tree Policy fully in place, and working in many cases without central or local Government’s red tape. 

Aucklanders need to learn from their rural cousins about the importance of sustainability and how to nurture nature. But having national policy just for trees does not fully address the myriad of issues that are confronting urban and rural New Zealand. The key to any such policies are:

 - It must apply nationwide and not get caught up in Regional and District Council politics and patch protection.  It must truly look at the country as a whole and decide what is best for New Zealand and our future generations.

- It needs to decide where trees can be best be planted, where fruit and vegetables can be best grown and where houses plus their supporting infrastructure are best placed – based on soils types, microclimates and the expanding needs of our cities.  It needs to take a comprehensive approach to all the key issues.

- It requires string political leadership from the Government, this is something that cannot be left to chance and something that cannot be left to the councils around the country.

- It needs to harness the tools available in the Resource Management Act to achieve national and environmental policy status.

It’s time for some future planning for our future generations across the whole country – urban as well as rural New Zealand.

- Mike Chapman, CEO