Western Springs forest future - new findings on pines

August 29, 2019

Western Springs forest future - new findings on pines

The Auckland Council have shut off the Western Springs pathway because of the potential safety hazard. Photo: Faith Cleverley

Conflicting findings from expert arborists are the latest twist in the proposed felling of the much-loved Western Springs pine forest.

The trees are the subject of Environment Court proceedings after a local protection society appealed Auckland Council’s resource consent to remove all the pines, claiming 64 percent were at risk of falling down.

But new peer-reviewed information shows only six percent of the pine trees were at a high to extreme risk according to a document sent to local residents this week by the society for the protection of the Western Springs forest (SPWSF) who say taking down the whole forest is not necessary.

“Council has not done the necessary assessments on the pine trees, which would enable them to properly consider other options for managing these trees and avoiding the destruction of the closed canopy regenerating native forest understorey,” said Wendy Gray, chair of SPWSF.

The SPWSF has proposed the trees identified as an immediate threat are removed, while 200-odd remaining pines are left standing.

The Auckland Council said, “removing only dead or unstable trees would cause a dramatic increase in the failure rate of those left behind, most of which lean toward and within falling reach of the walking track” in FAQs about the forest on their website.

According to guidelines, the Environment Court decision may take up to six months or longer to process the appeal and the Council may not be bound by its findings.

Auckland Council and the Waitemata local board would not comment while the case was in mediation.

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