Appeal lodged against clear felling of Western Springs Forest

This is a press release from the Society for the Protection of Western Springs Forest

An appeal against a Resource Consent granting permission to Auckland Council to clearfell 200 pine trees, which will destroy a large part of the regenerating native understory in the Western Springs Forest, has been lodged at the Environment Court by the newly Incorporated Society for the Protection of the Western Springs Forest. 

The group says the rapid clear felling will cause irreparable destruction of native plants, animals and habitat and is contrary to best management practices of the forest which is designated a Significant Ecological Area (SEA).

The appellants will argue that Commissioners failed to properly take into account the damage to biodiversity of destroying approximately 10,000, maturing native trees and ngahere.

“This would be a catastrophic impact on the regenerating native forest and its ecology for which the 95 year old stand of Pines acts as a nursery,” says spokesperson Wendy Gray.   

Instead the group supports the current gradual transition to native forest.

“A properly managed transition would avoid trauma to both the native biodiversity and local residents of logging this striking stand of old trees in one fell swoop,” says Gray.  

 The group is also challenging the Council for not considering the climate change consequences of the clear felling.

 “Clear felling and destroying this ecosystem and micro-climate would make a mockery of the Councils new Climate Emergency declaration,” says Gray.

Despite widespread local opposition, and a commitment to further consult affected residents and the community, the Waitemata Local Board Chair Pippa Coom moved quickly after Commissioners granted consent on 21 May and issued an email on 9 June proclaiming that the felling would take place next year (2020).

The Society for the Protection of Western Springs Forest includes local western springs residents and submitters to the original proposal. They have engaged legal counsel to run the appeal and are inviting the public to contribute to a fighting fund for the case.

The new community group says they will hold local politicians to account.

A number of relevant experts have also offered support for the appeal including ecologists, arborists and health and safety specialists who are concerned about the clear felling.  

An expert ecologist has advised that “the current [Auckland Council] proposal, without any provision or consideration of alternatives, does not seem appropriate. It is likely that the site’s existing biodiversity would, at best, be adversely impacted. Catastrophic impacts on the site’s ecology are a real possibility.”

We are inviting financial contributions on the website.

“This process costs an enormous amount of money so we really appreciate and need any contribution people can make to protect this unique inner city Forest and microclimate, the ‘lungs’ of Auckland.”