Download our Tree Strategy here(PDF, 718KB)
Benefits of Trees - Why we have Public Trees on our Reserves and Streets
Trees are a valuable, functional component of the landscape. They also make a significant contribution to people's health and quality of life. Trees clean the air, provide natural flood defences, mask noise and promote a general sense of wellbeing. Trees can add colour, interest and beauty to our busier streets while bringing natural aspects to industrial areas. Within urban areas, trees contribute significantly towards many environmental and social benefits, such as journey quality, biodiversity, temperature regulation and habitat.
The inclusion and protection of public trees are covered in various legislation including, but not limited to, the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), the Reserves Act 1977, and the Property Law Act 2007. Trees also afforded provision in Council's Proposed District Plan, Engineering Code of Practice (for development), local Reserve Management Plans and in Council bylaws.
Our District Plan (the Plan) contains a schedule of significant trees in the district (Appendix 3 Significant Tree Schedule). Section 35 in the Plan contains rules that apply to the maintenance or removal of significant trees listed in Appendix 3 and to activities that are within the dripline area.
Significant trees are located on both public and private property. Additionally, resource consent conditions may include conditions to protect existing trees during the development of a site. Prior to works commencing near or on any significant tree, advice should be sought from the Council's planning department.
The Plan has provisions which protect kauri trees from kauri dieback disease. These provisions are in the earthwork's rules in the Conservation, Rural and Rural Lifestyle Zones (Sections 43, 56 and 57). The controls require any earthworks within the kauri hygiene zone to be undertaken in a manner to avoid the spread of kauri dieback disease.
Biodiversity rules in the District Plan
The RMA requires Council to control any actual or potential effects of the use, development or protection of land for the purpose of the maintenance of indigenous biological diversity. Sections 6 and 29 in the Plan contain objectives, policies and rules for clearing of indigenous vegetation. Appendix 6 'Schedule of Urban Allotments with potential SNAs' includes the sites where a resource consent is required for clearing indigenous vegetation. Prior to works commencing to clear indigenous vegetation advice should be sought from the Council's planning department.
New and replacement planting is essential to ensure continuity of the district tree stock. New trees can be included as part of 'green infrastructure', to replace trees that have met end of life or have had to be removed for other reasons, or as targeted planting to improve tree provision in a local neighbourhood. Council will take care to ensure the correct species selection for inclusion of new trees in relation to the existing natural and built environment.
Proactive and Reactive Tree Management
Council will do works on public trees with identified issues dependent upon factors such as the tree species, location and age. Tree works generally will be conducted to improve tree health and to maintain public safety. Health and or structural issues may need to be identified by an arborist before Council will undertake works.
Common Types of Treeworks
Dead-wooding: Most trees are self-pruning and dead wood will drop from the trees sequentially. For some species removing additional deadwood can improve the health of the tree and let more light through the canopy.
Crown thinning: This is like dead-wooding, but it also includes the removal of live wood. This may include the removal of branches that have not formed well, may be rubbing against each other, or may be inherently weak.
Crown lifting: This is where the canopy is trimmed to lift it higher. This can be done for many reasons, including public safety; for example, if a tree has branches over a footpath at head height there's a risk of injury.
Power lines clearance: This is generally escalated to Powerco's contractors who need to undertake the work due to the hazardous nature of working near live power cables and lines.
Root pruning: The removal of tree roots has a significant negative impact on tree health and tree stability. Root pruning will be conducted as a last resort and only for the protection of essential infrastructure. Such works must be conducted under the supervision of an arborist.
Removal of over-hanging branches: Neighbours are entitled to cut back overhanging branches of public trees to their legal property boundary at their own cost. Council will however arrange and meet the cost of tree works where overhanging public tree branches are causing damage to private property such as fences or buildings.
Topping or pruning for a view: Tree works will not normally be carried out to improve the view from a private property. Topping or height reduction pruning is considered to be bad arboricultural practice as it forces the tree to try to replace what has been lost. This is generally in the form of epicormic growth which is fast growing with poorly attached branch unions resulting in an increased maintenance requirement and potential safety risks. Council may however consider the option to crown lift, thin and deadwood the tree to allow views through and under the canopy. An application can be made to the District Court if an adjacent landowner believes a tree unduly obstructs a view.
If a public tree is dead or believed to be threatening life, property or essential services Council will visit the site and works may be authorised to remove the tree. The advice of an independent arborist may be sought if there are objections from other parties to Council's action regarding the tree.
Customers can request works on trees by contacting the Customer Service team on 07 868 0200 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively launch a request for service on the website.