Forest & Bird North Shore branch has discovered a large swathe of Auckland’s coastal pohutukawa has been devastated at a Takapuna development site. The large site on the clifftop south of Takapuna beach was once covered in large mature pohutukawa forest and now has been stripped of the majority of vegetation. The destruction is clearly visible from the coast at low tide.
Mature native trees have long been protected in Auckland, with special attention being paid to coastal pohutukawa forest through the “Coastal Conservation Zone”. The Coastal Conservation Zone has been replaced by “Significant Ecological Area” (SEA) overlays, which have continued the protection of these trees. Forest & Bird believes that most—if not all—of the trees removed fall in this SEA zone and that most likely they have been removed illegally.
The operative Auckland District Plan states:
The quality of the coastline makes a significant contribution to the character and identity of the city. It is a natural asset and finite resource which requires protection and enhancement through the District Plan. The RMA gives particular recognition to the special significance of the coastal environment. Preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment is a matter of national importance which is also reflected in the principles, objectives, policies and methods of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, Auckland Regional Policy Statement and Auckland Regional Plan: Coastal.
In other words, the quality of the coastline in Auckland is of huge significance to all New Zealanders. The coastal forest defines the Waitemata, Kaipara and Manukau harbours. The blaze of red at Christmas is part of the New Zealand psyche. These forests are habitat for a large variety of birdlife including kingfisher, kereru, tui, and white-faced heron. Destruction of this forest is an assault on all Aucklanders.
Auckland Council’s public response to date has been that “one small tree and a small twig on a stump” has been removed. The photos tell a different story.
Forest & Bird demand that the perpetrator of this destruction be brought to task, be made to reinstate the forest by planting the largest trees possible and be penalised appropriately for their actions.