Save The Trees on Owairaka/Mount Albert

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Beloved Community, 

With the deepest respect to all people and beings involved, I bring to your attention the Restoration plan proposed for Ōwairaka / Mount Albert. 

This plan involves the removal of 345 mature, exotic trees.  Looking at the map shows that almost the entire periphery of the mountain will be denuded.  The plan includes the planting of 13,000 native saplings.  While this shows a net gain on paper, the reality in this age of global warming is far different. 

Native trees of Aoteoroa are largely adapted for moist, forest floors and baby plants anywhere require being borne into a community of plant elders.  The loss of 345 mature trees is devastating to the community of humans, animals, plant and microbial life in and around Ōwairaka/Mount Albert for the following reasons: 

1. At the most basic level, this Maunga is walked daily by hundreds of people.  We have a heart and soul relationship to these trees.  All who I am speaking to are grieving.  These trees, particularly the giant Eucalypts that line the mountain, are our kin.  We cannot watch them be killed and not mourn deeply. 

2.  Global warming is HERE.  It is not a future event.  The temperatures already in Auckland this early November demonstrate this.  It is only trees, grasslands and clean waterways that can sequester carbon.  All estimates in the scientific community give us 2030 as the utter maximum date at which we will reach the point of no return.  Removing 345 mature trees while hoping that 13,000 saplings that will take decades to mature may look like a gain on paper - but in practice, in a country that is getting hotter and drier - the reality will look hugely different. 

3. The goal is create habitat for native birds.  Ask anyone who walks this mountain.  Tui, Ruru, Kereru, Piwakawaka and Kahu are all here.  They've been for years.  They aren't only flying to and nesting on native trees.  To remove their home to give them a home eventually is a shocking violation of their right to life and the rights of the non-native animal communities and ecosystem in which they life. 

4. Ōwairaka is a Maunga, and absolutely holds profound cultural significance.  She is also for all intents and purposes a living forest.  Aoteoroa has granted personhood to mountains and rivers.  It is part of the greatness of this land and its indigenous people to recognize sentient life.  The airlifting of the corpses of many trees killed en masse is not the best we can do to honour these deep values.  

5. Disruption to soil, microbial life, existing root systems and the structural integrity of the mountain itself, especially around its edges is dangerous.  The soil as of November 6th is cracked from how dry it is.  

6. This Maunga is named after Wairaka, who in one telling of her legend broke protocol and took the waka paddle, acting 'as a man' to save the women in her care.  Woven into the very energetics of this beautiful place is a legend that speaks to right relationship, custodianship and protection of all life and the times in which we must act to protect the sacred.  

There is another way.  Plant the saplings.  Involve the community.  Celebrate the history, culture, indigenosity of this sacred land while allowing all life to receive the right to live.  Allow us all to help.  Allow the ancient Eucalpyts to help the baby natives grow.  

Please don't kill trees.  We can't afford that in 2019. 

With the deepest, greatest and most profound love and respect in my heart

Samar Ocean Wolf Ciprian

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