Work on the regeneration of native forest in Western Springs Lakeside Te Waiōrea is now underway, starting with the removal of 198 exotic pine trees that are unstable and posing a safety risk to the public.
The felling of the pines has now begun using a low impact methodology, with work being overseen by an independent ecologist and arborist. The removal of the trees is expected to take up to 10 weeks.
Following the removal of the pines, a planting programme will get underway with several thousand native trees being planted, restoring the area to native bush and creating a thriving habitat for wildlife.
These photographs were taken within the forest area in April 2021 and show how the trees are degenerating, including falling.
The existing pines, aged around 95 years old, are in poor health and approximately 31 are dead. Auckland Council has been monitoring the pines since 2005, documenting the degeneration of the stand which originally comprised around 700 trees.
The area of the park where the pine trees are located has been closed since April 2018 due to potential health and safety risks from the pines.
The removal process will involve the majority of pine limbs and trunks being chipped, with the resulting mulch being used in the restorative planting programme. The majority of the larger logs will be left in situ to create a beneficial habitat for lizards, birds and invertebrates.
The new native forest will include plants and trees like pūriri, taraire and tānekaha and will provide native habitat for a range of wildlife including tui, grey warbler, and silvereye.
The local community, including nearby schools, will be invited to participate in the planting.
A brief history of the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project
Resource consent was granted in 2019, following an appeal to the Environment Court, for the removal of the pine tree stand, with removal of the pine trees enabling delivery of the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project.
The tree removals methodology was prepared in collaboration with multiple experts to ensure the work is completed safely and with minimised disturbance to the native undergrowth.
Prior to work starting, surveys for indigenous bats and lizards were undertaken. No bats were detected in the forest, though ecologists working on-site captured 14 Copper Skinks and relocated them to a safe habitat in Auckland Zoo.
Removal works will take place between the hours of 7.30am and 6pm weekdays only. Security will be on-site for the duration of the works to ensure the safety of the public.