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Cases of trees being damaged continue.

18 November 2016

Cases of trees being damaged continue. A spike in the number of trees on Council land, either being poisoned or vandalised, is extremely disappointing and disturbing.

Damage of tree in WhangamataPoisoned Pohutukawa on TCDC beach reserve at end of Tate Road in Whangamata

"Since Labour Weekend we've had quite a few cases of trees being damaged or destroyed," says our Parks and Reserves Manager Derek Thompson. "Despite the efforts going into the maintenance of  trees across our district, the devastating destruction of the trees continues on a regular basis," he says.

Some recent incidents have been at  Opito Bay where two trees were damaged at Moore Crescent Reserve. "What has been done here is totally not acceptable and is a real concern of what is happening in our region," says Mr Thompson. "One of the trees was of particular significance to the area as it provided shade and our contractors were completing on-going crown-lifting and pruning work on the tree," reports Mr Thompson. "The work being done was to preserve it in a way that also created a nice shape of the tree so it could frame the near-by property views, rather than blocking the views."

Tree damaged in Opito Bay

"There were stages of development that the tree needed to go through to achieve the desired outcome and the tree was almost at this stage. Unfortunately somebody thinks it is ok to cut back the trees, however this increases secondary growth and means the tree is likely to grow back worse, or thicker, and will now take years to get back to a stage where it can be developed again," says Mr Thompson.

Several residents in Opito Bay have let our parks contractors know that they are also upset by the destruction of their trees. "Often people will discuss their intentions or actions to remove a tree from their view and it is important that people are aware of the steps to take and options available," says Mr Thompson.

opito bay image

Another recent case of tree poisoning that has been reported involves one of the Norfolk Pines on Buffalo Beach, Whitianga. The tree has since been cordoned off, as one of our local tree experts has confirmed it has been poisoned and there is now the threat of falling branches and pine cones. The Mercury Community Board is disappointed and saddened to see a tree of this age (approximately 70 – 80 years) and prominence has been intentionally destroyed.

Other areas where incidents have occurred includes Pauanui where a whole cul-de-sac of trees has been killed and in Tairua every year trees are damaged on the front of the estuary.

Previous cases of tree destruction have resulted in court action and complaints being laid with police.

"Our district has beautiful native coastal trees on public reserves and are there for the enjoyment of everybody," says Whangamata Area Manager, Gary Towler. "We take this type of vandalism very seriously due to the on-going incidences including Williamson Park, Island View Reserve, The Esplanade, Onemana and the beach reserve at the end of Tuck Road."

Mr Towler encourages "if you see something, say something," and if there are any issues with a tree, visit your local area office and discuss it, as in many cases there may be professional tree management options.

Buffalo Beach Norfolk Pine Damaged

Poisoned Norfolk Pine on Buffalo Beach, Whitianga.

What are the options for trees on Council land?

Depending on the tree, species, location and age there are a few things that can be done:

Deadwooding: Most trees are self-pruning and dead wood will drop from the trees, but this does not happen all at once, so by removing wood that is dead, we can improve the health of the tree, let more light through the canopy and possibly improve views.

Crown thinning: This is like deadwooding, but also includes the removal of live wood as well. This may include the removal of branches that have not formed well, may be rubbing against each other, or may be inherently weak. The benefits or the side effects can be similar to deadwooding.

Crown lifting: This is where the canopy is trimmed to lift it higher. This can be done for many reasons, including public safety; for example, if a tree has branches over a footpath at head height there's a risk of injury.

Power lines clearance: This is generally escalated to Powerco's contractors who need to undertake the work due to the hazardous nature of working near live power cables.

If the tree is dead or believed to be threatening life, property or essential services: A council officer will visit the site. The advice of an independent arborist may be sought if the officer believes there is no threat or if there may be objections from other parties to council action about the tree.

Contact the TCDC Customer Service team on 07 868 0200 or customer.services@tcdc.govt.nzto talk about trees or launch a request for service on council's website: www.tcdc.govt.nz/rfs