Following concerns raised by residents affected by Auckland Council’s planned emergency tree felling works along the western side of Western Springs Lakeside Park have been delayed so that further engagement can take place with residents.
The council has applied for a resource consent to remove the entire stand of 200+ pines in the forest block and replace them with a native forest. However, following concerns expressed by a neighbouring resident in November, a site inspection took place with a qualified council arborist and an independent arborist which identified the deteriorated and dangerous state of 13 trees in the park which pose an immediate risk to neighbouring residents and their property.
Due to the seriousness of this risk, the 13 dead and dying trees will be felled under emergency provisions of the Unitary Plan next week. This is a permitted activity in its own right and does not circumvent the council’s resource consent application for the removal of the remaining trees.
“Many of the larger pines at Western Springs are either dead, have heavily reduced canopies, have sustained damage by fire, or are visually displaying poor health," says Simon Randall, Acting Head of Operational Management and Maintenance at Auckland Council.
"Our team regularly inspects larger trees and those presenting an immediate risk to person or property are removed.
“The health of a number of trees along the western side of Western Springs was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that they present a very real stability risk. We have had to act immediately to protect residents and their properties.
“Removal of such large trees is a logistical challenge, which is compounded by the fact that health and safety requirements state properties within two tree lengths need to be evacuated during removal. We are working with residents of West View Road who are directly affected by this work.”
Tree removal dates and temporary area closure
The works are expected to take around four days and had initially been scheduled to take place from Tuesday 22 January until Friday 25 January between the hours of 8am and 3pm.
The residents of some of the properties on West View Road adjacent to the pine stand will need to briefly vacate their properties at some point during this period for their own safety. This in line with WorkSafe’s tree felling rules which state that ‘no person shall be closer than two tree lengths to a tree being felled, unless that person is: the faller, assisting the faller, supervising training others or being trained observing or auditing’.
Vacating properties will only be required while some of the thirteen affected trees are being felled so the times that residents will need to leave their properties will vary. The timing is also flexible enabling the works to take place during times that are suitable for the affected residents. In any case, the council’s arboriculture contractor will door knock the affected properties to ensure that they are empty while the works take place. The works on trees that risk falling on neighbouring properties will not take place while the properties are occupied.
Most of the time scheduled for the tree felling works will be used to set up the crew for each individual tree, the actual time needed to fell the trees should be between 20 to 60 minutes per tree. This means that it is a possibility for people to only leave their properties for short periods of time.
The access to the western section of the reserve has been temporarily closed while this work takes place.