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Notable tree faces the axe in Greytown

A Greytown community leader says the chopping down of a notable tree in a suburban street will put the town’s leafy reputation at risk.

The large liquidambar tree is on council land near 54 Wood St, a residential street. It is not known how old the tree is.

Further up the road, a row of five large trees on the other side of the street were previously felled. Some of those were understood to be diseased.

Greytown Community Board member Warren Woodger has asked why the Wood St tree is being felled.

Previously an oak tipped for removal had been saved, Woodger said.

“It was supposedly going to fall over, and they wanted it chopped down. The town got up in arms about it, and it was saved. They got an arborist in and trimmed it, and it’s still there today,” he said.

Woodger said the five other trees in Wood St had not been saved.

“They were evidently a hazard, and they were going to fall over, and they were rotten. Three were [rotten], but two were good.”

The current tree is considered to be in poor health, but Woodger said a second opinion should be sought on it, on the basis that “once it’s cut down, you can’t put it back again.”

He thought Greytown’s reputation as a place that valued its trees was increasingly at risk if decisions like this continued to be made.

“If we are going to become the arbor capital of New Zealand, and Greytown is known for its trees – and we want more trees – then we need to start preserving some of them,” he said.

Notable trees are granted extra protection and council permission is needed to cut them down.

The council has said it followed the correct process in making the call.

SWDC planning manager Kendyll Hammond said a resource consent had approved the removal.

“Through the resource consent process and assessment against the matters of discretion, it was considered suitable for the tree to be removed,” Hammond said.

“The Wairarapa combined district plan includes a register of notable trees. The district plan has permitted standards for trimming and works around notable trees as well as street trees. If these standards cannot be met, a resource consent is required to be submitted by the applicant.”

Among the resource consent considerations are the tree’s health and options for its management including relocation or protection.

A report on the tree said it was exhibiting around 25 per cent dieback within its southern lower canopy.

“The decline is also present at the tree’s apical reaches, along with density reduction and minimal shoot extension. Incremental growth is assessed as reduced over 2017 measurements, which is not surprising given the tree’s condition,” the report said.

Hammond said a second opinion was not needed.

“It was decided through the resource consent process that based on the information provided and the assessment against the matters of discretion that a peer review was not required in this case.”

Long-time Greytown resident Frank Minehan said he is also concerned about the number of trees being cut down in the town.

“In recent years ‘modernistic’ … architect-designed houses have been built and sold in West Street that have retained mature trees on site,” he said. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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