Save The Auckland Mountain/Maunga Trees Before It Is Too Late
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The mountains/maunga of Auckland are key parts of the communities that surround them and are popular recreation destinations for many people both from the communities surrounding them and from further afield. They are landmarks for their areas and many families, individuals, and dog walkers come to them to walk, exercise, and play. They are oases of peace in our busy lives.
However this is now at risk because the Tupuna Maunga Authority are doing major tree removals on these mountains/maunga.
Almost all if not all non indigenous trees will almost certainly be removed from each of the mountains/maunga that the Tupuna Maunga Authority are in control of, and even trees that should be protected may be removed. The planting of indigenous trees and shrubs is most likely to also take place, although most likely not where trees are being removed from so not replacing trees that are removed. While the planting of indigenous trees and shrubs is a good thing, most of the trees that they will remove are old mature trees and will not be replaced in situ by indigenous trees. These mountains/maunga would not be the same without these trees. These trees mean so much to so many people and it would be a huge loss if they were cut down. These trees also provide shade for people visiting the mountains/maunga and provide destinations for them. As well as the value that these trees have for people, they are also important for wildlife. Wildlife both indigenous and non indigenous use both the indigenous and non indigenous trees for habitat and food, especially birds and many insects. It is most likely that cutting down these trees would destroy more habitat than the replanting elsewhere would create.
As well as that, we are losing trees Auckland wide, and New Zealand wide, and world wide, although Auckland in particular is losing a lot of trees. Removing these trees is bad enough in itself, but that is not even looking at the bigger picture and how this is contributing to a much larger problem. The loss of these trees plays a much larger part in this problem than most contributions. This is 14 mountains/maunga Auckland wide, while most contributions in Auckland at least are households cutting down large trees that they were fortunate enough to have on their properties, and most of the rest are trees removed from public spaces by the council. But on one mountain/maunga in particular 120+ trees were removed, most of which were beautiful large old mature trees. That is equivalent to 120 households removing the big tree out of their garden, or several parks of reasonable size being cleared or nearly cleared of trees, and that is just one of the mountains/maunga, and most will likely have more trees than that removed. Mature trees do a clean up job on the environment that newly planted trees will take many years to be able to do – a short sighted action in light of the looming climate disaster when trees are one thing that may help us avert catastrophe.
We would like concerned people in Auckland to be aware of these mass removals in advance and petition the Tupuna Maunga Authority to leave as many trees as possible.
The 14 mountains/maunga that the Tupuna Maunga Authority are in control of are as follows:
Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill
Ōwairaka/Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura/ Mount Albert
Te Kōpuke/Tītīkōpuke/Mount St John
Te Tātua a Riukiuta/Big King
So far as I can understand Cornwall Park is not counted as part of One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie so the beautiful huge very old mature trees of Cornwall Park that most of us know and love should be safe. However I am not sure exactly where Cornwall Park ends and One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie begins and whether the Tupuna Maunga Authority has some influence over Cornwall Park so I am not sure of the safety of these trees. For instance I do not know if the field with the old olive trees is part of Cornwall Park or One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie and if it is part of One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie then those spectacular old olive trees are in danger. I have heard that there are some similar trees on Mount Richmond/Ōtāhuhu that are over 150 years old and are heritage trees, and these are almost certainly planned for removal as well. They have already felled the non indigenous trees on some of the mountains/maunga but there are still others left, and even on the mountains/maunga they felled trees from they may come back for remaining areas of non indigenous trees.
If the trees are left as they are then the planting of new indigenous trees and shrubs can still continue as planned most likely with little or no change of plan and the places and trees we love can stay the way they are.
We would like to ask the Tupuna Maunga Authority to consider again which trees might be left and whether each tree that is coming down really needs to be removed. At least spare the trees that are particularly important to individuals, or to groups, or to the public in general. However the solution that I suggest is best is that only trees that pose a real risk to health and safety are removed, and dangerous branches can be removed to make trees safe where necessary. The planting of new indigenous trees and shrubs can then take place and remaining trees can be removed as and if they become a real risk to health and safety. Even where trees to be removed are in planting areas there is no real need to remove them because in nature young trees naturally grow up beneath old trees wherever there is enough light and space for them. In a dense forest this does not usually happen unless there is a gap in the canopy, however there is nowhere that I have seen on any of the mountains/maunga where the non indigenous trees grow too densely for young trees to grow beneath them. Old trees are actually usually beneficial for young trees growing beneath them because they suppress weeds and create a microclimate that suits young trees. This happens between trees of the same species and different species, and non indigenous old trees will provide this for indigenous young trees. Even pines, which are notorious for suppressing growth of other plants beneath them can benefit native trees. I have often noticed that when forestry pine plantations are left too long, or even sometimes when they are not, native bush plants and trees grow up beneath them and form areas of native bush underneath the pines. The suppressive effect of pines is not very strong on these indigenous plants and trees but almost completely effective on weeds like kikuyu that prevent the growth of these plants. So except for the few trees that may be too dangerous most trees should be able to be kept.
My name is Caleb Azor and I am 17 years old. I live across the road from Pigeon Mountain/Ōhuiarangi, one of the mountains/maunga the Tupuna Maunga Authority are in control of, and knew and loved it and it's trees my whole life. Pigeon Mountain/Ōhuiarangi and many of the places there were special places to me and my family, and we felt a connection to them, and much of this was to do with the trees that grew there. I have had many adventures there, and I have many happy memories of special times spent there. Then on Tuesday the 2nd of April me and my family received a letter telling us that major tree works would begin on Monday the 8th of April. I sent emails to the Tupuna Maunga Authority and phoned them and started a petition to them to spare the trees, but work went ahead as they had said and by the end of Wednesday the 17th of April they had felled all of the trees that they had planned to except for one large old conifer they agreed to spare and a hawthorn that they may have spared. We are very grateful to the Tupuna Maunga Authority for doing this. However the devastation at the loss of the other 120+ trees that they cut down is great. It has been horrible and painful to lose these trees. I am really heartbroken about the removal of so many trees that I have known and loved my whole life. The removal of these trees has completely changed the places we loved very much for the worse, and the mountain/maunga itself is unrecognisable as the beautiful place it once was. They will do a similar thing to each of the 14 mountains/maunga that they are in control of so we must take a stand for all of the mountains/maunga now. They have already done some of the 14 mountains/maunga but there are still others to save. Also on Pigeon Mountain/Ōhuiarangi at least there is another area of non indigenous trees on the quarried side that they are still coming back for.
I believe that the public and especially the people who use and enjoy this space deserve to have a say in this and any other major changes to these mountains/maunga, and many other people must feel the same way about the trees on these mountains/maunga.
I also have a very strong interest in plants and study horticulture as a subject and hope to work in horticulture when I get a job, so I am passionate about saving trees where this is possible and practical.
More information about what has happened and will be happening on Pigeon Mountain/Ōhuiarangi:
The Tupuna Maunga Authority's section of the Auckland Council website:
The Tupuna Maunga Authority's operational plan:
A shortened version of the Tupuna Maunga Authority's operational plan:
“We have all heard about how trees help the environment, but do we know how exactly? Metaphorically, trees are like the lungs of the planet. They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. What does this mean?...” http://www.nitrofill.com/TreeLungs.aspx
"The amount of carbon that we can restore if we plant 1.2 trillion trees, or at least allow those trees to grow, would be way higher than the next best climate change solution." https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/17/world/trillion-trees-climate-change-intl-scn/index.html?fbclid=IwAR1Z_KbbRHZR8KTkZ88eaw3s9n3hFAr_nWw3bLtJWeBCtUZ7t6T0n1-Z0eo
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