New life is being breathed into Western Springs Lakeside Te Waiōrea with the replanting phase of the Native Bush Restoration Project due to get underway.
Over the past couple of months, almost 200 exotic pine trees, the majority of which were dead or dying, have been carefully felled and removed from the forest, making way for more than 8000 native trees and shrubs to be planted in their place.
The Monterey pine trees at Western Springs have been in steady decline over the last 30 years, with their numbers reducing from approximately 700 to 198.
Some of those that remained were considered to be at risk of falling at any time and even some of those that appeared to have healthy foliage were found to be rotting internally. As a result of the risk to the public, the walking track was closed in 2018.
Multiple experts were consulted, and it was agreed that removing all of the pines at once using a method that aimed to reduce the impact on the forest’s undergrowth was the best way to manage the safety risks associated with the trees.
With the tree removal works now complete, plans for the reinstatement of the pedestrian track are underway, and schools, community groups and members of the public have all been invited to get involved with the planting programme, which will take place in early July.
“We know that Western Springs Lakeside Te Waiōrea is treasured by the local community and we’re excited to reopen the walking track so that they can once again fully enjoy this special place. The views that stretch out to Owairaka Mount Albert are breath taking and we know Aucklanders will spend hours there just watching the world go by,” says Auckland Council Director Customer and Community Services Dr Claudia Wyss.
“Not only will this be a special place for locals, but the re-established forest will also be home to scores of wildlife, including our native tūi, grey warbler and silver eye.
“The decision to fell the pine trees was not an easy one and it was not taken lightly. It was made in consultation with a number of experts to ensure it was the right thing to do. We completely understand that these trees were very meaningful to some members of our community, as they were to many of our teams, and we were faced with the important responsibility of putting the safety of the public first.”