Presentation to Auckland Council 20 Feb 2018

Presentation to Auckland Council Environment and Community Committee

20 February 2018

1 Towards Valuing Auckland’s Trees
2 Less than 12%

The Draft Urban Forest Strategy puts Auckland’s tree canopy cover at 18%.
But in late 2017 Tree Council told us that Auckland has lost one third of its urban forest canopy.
That means we have only 12% cover.
Auckland is nearly bald of trees.

3 This is the Sorites Paradox

With a full head of hair you don’t mind losing a few strands. You may not even notice.
We are nearly bald. Every tree counts.

5, 6, 7 How big is the loss?

The Draft Urban Forest Strategy values our trees at an average of $2.53 per tree per annum
Adelaide 188 NZD per tree per annum
Melbourne 928 NZD
London 1020 NZD
Yes; Auckland’s value is near zero.

8 The Draft Urban Tree strategy lists more than 18 benefits and services

The Urban Forest Strategy values only four out of 18 benefits and services that it lists within its own report.
Auckland puts zero value on the capital value of amenity assets.
Yet London values one of its trees at £189,672.

9 It is clear that Auckland is out of step with the rest of the World.

These figures show Auckland is lagging a long way behind the rest of the world. It doesn’t value its trees.

10 Looking at the lost to Auckland of the trees lost since 2013:

2013 LIDAR says Auckland had 4.6 million trees
2017 Tree Council says one third has been lost = 1.5 million trees
@ $2.53 per tree that amounts to nearly $4 million lost per annum
Taking the average life of a tree at 40 years conservatively, the cumulative loss is over $156 million ($156,366, 144).
The true cost is much much more.
11 Who is destroying our trees?
This is not an exhaustive list.

12 Auckland Transport deserves special mention

Its activities are shortening the lives of our established street trees.
It is poisoning trees multiple times a year through poor weed management and strimming practices.
It is shortening tree life by root pruning, soil compaction, out-of-season planting and transplanting.
It has no global view of the environmental damage it is causing.

13 Some reasons trees are cut down

This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Diseased – may be from poor pruning or care
  • Roots in drains and pipes
  • View obstructed by trees
  • In the way of ground plan
  • Increase property value by cutting down trees
  • Have right, can do what I like on my property

The result is that people, Council contractors and CCOs are cutting down an average of 1,000 trees per day.

Let that sink in: 1,000 trees a day. (That’s 1.5 million over four years.)

14 Recommendations
  • That this Committee task officers to undertake a new valuation of Trees in Auckland including the urban amenity of trees and the Chair and Deputy Chair work alongside them to derive a proper value for Auckland’s trees. (The UK CAVAT system may be very helpful especially for enforcement. )
  • That this Committee ensure that this strategy applies to every Council Departmen
  • And the CCOs all must be accountable to deliver on the targets
  • That we call a Conference for all stakeholders including Auckland residents
  • That we call a Moratorium on cutting down all established trees in Auckland. Binding on everyone, all organisations, and Government – otherwise there will be major loss of the biggest trees just in case the laws change.
Why does Auckland not value its urban forest?

There is no other measure from which such diversity of benefits flow which apply to everyone – whether they realise or not.
Trees are fundamental to making ours a livable city.

Yet, just think: in the five minutes I’ve been speaking 3 to 4 more trees have been felled.

Council and the Mayor must re-prioritise to fully value, preserve and enhance Auckland’s urban forest.
Thank you.

Wendy Gray

Unnecessary destruction of tree during stormwater works.
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