Please Stop the Indiscriminate Destruction of Our Stately Trees in Tokoroa

Please Stop the Indiscriminate Destruction of Our Stately Trees in Tokoroa

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Why this petition matters

Started by Rachela D'Andrea

I was shocked and dismayed recently to find out that Our Local Council had determined that they would remove the remaining specimen trees from the heart of our town.


The Key deciding factor for us when choosing to purchase our current premises a quarter of a century past and committing to staying in this community building an establishment to be proud of were the surrounding trees which we and our clients have quietly enjoyed through all the seasons since for near on that quarter century now.


We consider that without them all of our efforts during those years to make the surrounds of our establishment a renowned beauty place ~ known to inspire both Wedding Photographers and Well Known Journalists wishing to write positive stories about our town ~ would be sadly diminished so wish to petition the SWDC to desist from their plans for their wholesale removal.


Previously when we requested the council to have one of the original Talking Poles included in our garden array that move was not accepted despite the intercession of the creator himself declaring it to be the most appropriate place in town for his work. This decision being made on grounds that it would have caused unsafe driving conditions around our corner and yet removal of the large trees before the planting of new ones guarantees that there will be nothing available to shade passing vehicle drivers from glare for many years to come ~ something which we personally witnessed in Bridge Street upon returning to town early on the evening of 15th February where not only was it not possible to distinguish all of the vehicles surrounding ours but any efforts we made to see whether premises on either side of the road were open or not was to no avail without turning around and re-navigating that same piece of road.


This current situation is a far cry from the penultimate proposals for our town to have a welcoming boulevard of dining establishments along the length of Leith Place ~ something which in European City Centres would almost certainly incorporate a good number of shade trees for the protection of the diners during summer months when Outdoor Dining is desirable as well as providing both an enhanced ambience and a healthier atmosphere All Year Round.


I note that a 2013 Report from Arbor Culture NZ Ltd was said to consider that removal of two of the Bridge Street Oaks would then ensure Public Safety which seems to have been taken to heart by some even though it hasn’t proven to be the envisioned panacea and really why would we expect that when risk is inherent in life.


However not being one of the high risk takers I like many do enjoy a feeling of safety and comfort in my everyday life but must say that we’ve never on any occasion felt threatened by the possibility of damage to ourselves or our building from any of the trees surrounding our establishment even during times of the strongest winds when occasionally even the heaviest of our planters ~ already containing mature trees as well as being inherently weighty ~ have overturned and sometimes even been carried away down the street.


I note too that an announcement released the day following the December 2nd Council Meeting last year ~ where the minutes have the Parks and Reserves Manager advising that all the big trees in the centre island of Bridge Street will be taken down responded to by the CEO advising that there had been no decision yet and a report was due on their future and with the Mayor confirming that Council would be taking advice from the experts ~ actually has that same manager stating that the tree health inspections which are conducted every two years would not indicate flat root balls like those of the fallen tree nor the hitting of a “Likely” Rhyolite layer so why then has this one incident been extrapolated to include all of the 70-year old trees in Bridge Street “with Urgency” with even those in Campbell and Logan streets to now be included in this the 2022-2023 financial year.


When did this report from those experts arrive and how much consideration has it been given ~ what is the explanation for this  need for Urgency ~ is there some budgetary allocation needing to be spent or a contractual obligation to fulfil ~ surely if visual inspection is going to be the basis of the Council Decision Making then the Campbell Street  trees would appear to be the most sturdy of the lot probably due to them just having been allowed to get well established in their surrounds rather than it having been deemed necessary to prune them repeatedly.


Two methods for elucidating root ecology are penetrating radar and electrical resistivity tomography ~ have studies using either of these methods ever been commissioned in the case of any of these trees ~ could some of the money allocated to their removal be used to give a more comprehensive picture of how they’ve actually accommodated themselves to their underground surroundings to determine whether there are indeed some other specimens which may not be securely anchored instead of relying purely on speculation.


Have any of the members of Council or indeed any of the firms commissioned by them to take care of our Arboreal Environment ever referred to the findings in the very comprehensive Study undertaken by members of the National School of Surveying at the University of Otago more than a decade ago [published by Robert Tenzer et al] before making their recommendations to remove all of our beautiful vintage specimens indiscriminately?


What about other reports that may have investigated how trees in other places have adapted to their underground growing environments including similar pockets of rhyolite as surely that just Can Not be determined from their visible extremities. 


That new trees could be planted to replace our mature beauties even seems to be in doubt without a scientifically based ground survey as to how far the current rootballs are actually extending into this supposedly extensive rhyolite layer in which they’re all presumed to be rooted. This would allow for a determination of whether or not enough space remains around those left In Situ for new trees to become established or whether we are we even talking about rootballs in all cases rather a network of roots ~ information which could well be considered an imperative before undertaking such drastic and non reversible removal action.


Surely too any new trees that are fast enough growing to actually get established in a timely manner will be less sturdy than even the most badly pruned of those currently in place and therefore even more prone to wind damage so the case definitely exists for taking a somewhat longer term approach to establishing new candidates and preferably doing so within the protection of the framework of the existing trees before commencing contemplation of their removal.


With the time elapsed since that 2013 Arbor Culture Report now being eight or nine years why is there not some evidence of this having taken place already.


And; if personal safety is actually the real worry then I’d consider money spent on indiscriminate tree removal to be much better targeted to improving footpath structures throughout the town so as to enable those who may be unsteady of foot to walk safely on their chosen path with the paths current state certainly doing nothing towards enhancing the appeal of our town to visitors. Simple walks along footpaths outside of the core CBD have occasioned me bodily damage on two occasions at least ignoring even more prevalent multiple near misses in the CBD itself something I believe to be true also for a large number of our more elderly citizens whose numbers are now on the increase with the migration southwards of city dwellers nearing retirement age.


In fact I’m left wondering about which visitors we are hoping to attract to spend more time in our town when we are sailing against international trends towards a greener planet ~ a trend which I’d be much happier seeing endorsed by the community in which we’ve chosen to live and towards which we are already making progress ourselves.


Have the costs of this removal exercise even been calculated not solely in monetary terms but in their impact on the quality of air our citizens will be breathing in future considering trees ability to modulate the escalation in their ambient temperatures ~ that movement which is now deemed to be inevitable in its imminent impacts.


Has the monetary term of a supposed reduction in Insurance Premiums actually eventuated in acknowledgement of those trees removed so far and whose culpability is it anyway when an “Arborist’ has ignorantly removed branches that previously provided a stable centre of gravity to these handsome gifts from previous generations.


Is the model for the future which our town wishes to embrace really the one of Fast Tracking to an Unliveable Planet

or; actually one of ‘’Healthy people thriving in a safe, vibrant and sustainable community”




73 have signed. Let’s get to 100!