Human rights lawyer Deborah Manning leads fight over Western Springs pines – Stuff

A prominent human rights lawyer will face-off against Auckland Council this week over plans to cut down an ageing pine forest.

The issue arose in 2015, when the council determined the pines in Western Springs were past their life expectancy, declining rapidly and posed a risk to public safety. 

But Deborah Manning, a human rights lawyer who featured in the case of Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui, stands firmly against the project. 

“There are only a few trees at risk of falling that need to be managed in this forest,” she said.

“Clearfelling all 200 pine trees would destroy the understory of the forest, which includes many native flora and fauna.”

The understory refers to the layer of vegetation that grows between the forest canopy and the forest floor.

Manning wants the forest managed with a tree by tree assessment, which would involve removing only the trees deemed at risk of falling.

Read the full article from Ripu Bhatia on Stuff here

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.”

Auckland Council to use emergency powers to cut down 10 pine trees

Some Auckland residents say they are exhausted and stressed after a month fighting council plans to fell nearby pine trees.

The Auckland Council is seeking resource consent to fell 203 trees in Western Springs, and are using emergency powers under the Unitary Plan to cut down 10 it says pose health and safety risks.

Residents at the park’s boundary have fought to protect the trees but the council intends to remove them next week.

A Westview Road resident, Deborah Manning, said they are worn down and exhausted after a month of research and seeking advice from independent experts in a bid to protect the trees.

“Residents in the community feel like we have been in a state of invented crisis for the last month over supposed emergency tree works,” she said.

“All residents are pleading for is for decisions about significant ecological areas to be made on the best information and to be shared with residents and the community affected by those decisions.”

Read more of this article from Brooke Jenner on RNZ News here:

Western Springs pine trees removal delayed again

Auckland Council has again delayed its plan to use emergency powers to cut down 13 pine trees in Western Springs.

The council said the trees posed a safety risk because they were dead or dying, but residents say the council is bypassing due process.

Another meeting is planned for Monday and the council said it hoped to come to an agreement with the residents then.

An independent arborist representing the residents has already met with the council to discuss the issues.

The council said it was working in good faith with the residents to come to an agreement.

From RNZ News at western-springs-pine-trees-removal-delayed-again

Urgent removal of pines in Western Springs Lakeside Park

Thirteen trees have been identified for immediate removal following concerns about their health. 

Following concerns raised by residents affected by Auckland Council’s planned emergency tree felling works along the western side of Western Springs Lakeside Park have been delayed so that further engagement can take place with residents.

The council has applied for a resource consent to remove the entire stand of 200+ pines in the forest block and replace them with a native forest. However, following concerns expressed by a neighbouring resident in November, a site inspection took place with a qualified council arborist and an independent arborist which identified the deteriorated and dangerous state of 13 trees in the park which pose an immediate risk to neighbouring residents and their property …

Read more from Auckland Council here: urgent-removal-of-pines-in-western-springs-lakeside-park/

Auckland Council ‘disrespectful’ over felling pines – Otago Daily Times

Vaughan Clutterbuck has no problem with the removal of pine trees at Western Springs. It’s the “disrespectful” way Auckland Council is going about felling the trees that annoys him.

“This is a total sanctuary,” says Clutterbuck, whose home in West View Rd looks through the stagnating and dying pines to Western Springs lake and several prominent volcanic cones in the distance.

The council has been horrible neighbours to deal with, says the painting contractor, who was keeping an eye out this morning for work to begin on removing 13 trees considered to be at immediate risk of falling.

Workers from Treescape, the contractors employed by the council to fell the trees, and senior council arborist David Stejskal, were outside Western Springs Stadium this morning, but there was no sign of work starting.

“The destruction of 70 percent of this regenerating native bush would be a travesty in my mind merely to remove 200 trees,” said Clutterbuck, who is one of many people concerned with plans by the council to clearfell all the remaining pine trees in a 3.2ha block behind Western Springs lake.

The plan, supported by the Waitemata Local Board, is to remove the pines and replant thousands of native trees on the hillside.

Read the full article on the Otago Daily Times here

Auckland Council picks ugly route to pine removal

Pine trees have been standing for too long in some of Auckland’s parks. Old and scrubby, they have lost the shape and density that must have made them appealing to generations long ago. Today some of them are standing above regenerating native forest and looking increasingly incongruous as young rimu, totara, kauri and other indigenous species rise to replace them. So it is good to learn the Auckland Council plans to remove all the pines from at least one section of Western Springs reserve. It is just a pity the council appears to be going the wrong way about it …

Read more from the NZ Herald at

Western Springs pine trees spared axe – for now

Thirteen huge pine trees that Auckland Council wants removed urgently have been given a stay of execution after outrage from locals and tree campaigners.

The council notified residents on West View Drive in Western Springs last week that the removal work would start today.

The pines are part of a group of 200 that the council had applied to remove last year.

So locals said they were shocked and confused when they received a notice last week that 13 trees had to be felled urgently and residents needed to evacuate their homes while the work was happening this week.

West View Drive resident Deborah Manning said they expected the tree felling to be dealt with through the proper consenting channels because this was an important area.

“This is a really special piece of ecology in Auckland just behind Western Springs lake. An urban forest of significant ecological import,” Ms Manning said.

“And so it’s really important before you interfere with the ecology that everybody is clear about what the impact is going to be, what we’re going to do, how and why.” …

Read more on RNZ News at western-springs-pine-trees-spared-axe-for-now

Pine trees in Western Springs will come down tomorrow, despite late plea from local councillor

Auckland Council is proceeding with emergency provisions to start felling 13 pine trees in Auckland’s Western Springs tomorrow, despite opposition from locals with the backing of local councillor Mike Lee.

Lee has emailed council chief executive Stephen Town today asking him to instruct staff to respect due process and cease and desist any pre-emptive activity.

Residents have accused the council of flouting its own resource consent process after planning commissioners asked the council to answer questions by this Friday about its application to clearfell all 200 remaining pine trees in a 3.2ha block behind the Western Springs lake, below West View Rd in Grey Lynn.

Read more from Bernard Orsman on the NZ Herald at