Cutting down kauri trees counterintuitive to climate change concerns

May 22, 2019

Cutting down kauri trees counterintuitive to climate change concerns

Kauri Trees are a significant part of New Zealand’s ecosystem but lack legal protection. Picture: Pixabay

The felling of native Kauri trees is a major concern in the face of climate change, says a kauri preservation trust.

Winnie Charlesworth, from Save Our Kauri Trust, said that in light of the increasing social concern about climate change and the recently proposed zero carbon amendment bill, people should be more concerned about protecting kauri trees.

Kauri have one of the highest carbon densities of any tree in the world and are central to New Zealand’s ecosystem.

Ms Charlesworth said that while many kauri dense areas are covered by the SEA (significant ecological area) plan, which was introduced after blanket tree protection was lifted in 2012, even those trees can be cut down.

“The purpose of [the SEA plan] was to continue to protect native and mature native trees, but what’s happened is you simply need to apply for a resource consent and you can fell at the discretion of council.”

She stated there are no laws protecting trees, including natives, outside of SEAs.

“The problem is that the law doesn’t protect kauri, and that’s the bottom line. Kauri are a protected species and in the Auckland Council plan there is no special protection for them as a species that’s under threat of extinction. It’s quite ridiculous really.

“What we are wanting government to do is reinstate some sort of blanket protection because there are lots of trees unprotected in the Waitakere ranges that are mature, that are native and even if they are in an SEA they can be felled.”

Ms Charlesworth said this is particularly concerning as kauri trees are already under great threat from kauri dieback, which has spread rapidly through the Waitakere ranges.

The Environmental Court recently discharged a temporary order protecting a 400-year-old kauri tree from felling in the Titirangi area and have refused to grant a permanent order on the grounds that the tree is not within a SEA.

The tree, named ‘Awhiawhi’ by local iwi, is one of the only trees in the area not affected by kauri dieback disease.

Save Our Kauri Trust have submitted an appeal on the court’s decision which will be heard June 9.

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