Please join members of The Tree Council to show your disappointment at the loss of this potential park to the community of Avondale. There will be a protest on the pavement adjacent to the site starting at 10am on Saturday 22 February organised by The Tree Council’s Board Member and Landscape Architect Mark Lockhart. It will finish at 10.30am.
The unoccupied site at the corner of Canal Road and Wairau Avenue, Avondale comprises 4 sections and contains 46 mature native trees, including rare species such as Black Maire.
The Tree Council approached Auckland Council’s Whau Local Board Chair Tracy Mulholland in 2017 and suggested that they buy the land as a public park. She visited the site, agreed it was a good idea and said that Avondale was short of green space, but Council took no action to make it happen.
Just before Christmas 2019 the block was listed for sale as a development opportunity. The Tree Council and local residents again contacted the Council regarding purchase of the site. Despite the newly elected Whau Local Board expressing their desire to do so they were prevented from pursuing this by senior managers who claimed that the green space needs of the area can be accommodated by the deal being negotiated over the Avondale Racecourse. The sale of the Canal Rd site is due to go unconditional on Monday 24 February.
The Tree Council considers that the ecological and personal wellbeing benefits of having a park full of 46 mature native trees far exceed that of a piece of grass in the middle of a housing estate. We cannot understand why implementation of Auckland Council’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy, which states that “protecting existing ngahere is crucial to safeguarding the added values and benefits mature trees provide” is not embedded in the Key Performance Indicators of every senior manager and their departments – and we call upon the Mayor and CEO to ensure this happens in future.
Auckland’s urban area only had an average of 18% canopy cover in 2013 (Auckland Council LiDAR data). In Whau the total cover was just over 30% of which 20% was on private land. In an area such as Avondale zoned for intensive development, and with no protection of trees on private land, this canopy cover will be drastically reduced as development proceeds. The LiDAR data from 2016 which would show the loss of canopy cover across the city since general tree protection was removed still has not been released by Auckland Council. This Canal Rd site is the perfect example of this loss to Auckland’s residents, that is being duplicated across the city every day.
Auckland Council’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy has a target of increasing canopy cover in roads, parks and open spaces to support an average of 30% canopy cover across the city, with no Local Board area having less than 15% cover. This site represented a huge opportunity to protect mature trees in perpetuity, protecting the biodiversity that lives here and providing a beautiful and sustaining park for local people to enjoy. Ironically the property and its trees already feature in a self guided walk publication funded by the Whau Local Board along with the pecan trees on Haywood-Wright’s former property nearby which were also lost due to a Council “error” in 2017.
The Tree Council’s Chair Sean Freeman says “Auckland Council needs to take clear steps to ensure implementation of its Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy across all departments becomes part of everyday decision making for Council officers. If tree retention and opportunities to protect and grow the urban forest are not taken now the canopy cover will continue to shrink via the “death by a 1000 cuts” of development and we will never get it back. Auckland Council needs to show it is serious about having an Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy and achieving the targets it contains. If the Head of Parks can’t prioritise retaining 46 mature native trees over a piece of grass on a racecourse then there is something seriously wrong with the state of Auckland Council’s decision making”.
For more details on the protest contact:
Mark Lockhart, Mark@encompassdesign.co.nz Ph 027 290 2811