Auck­land tree scarcity re­flects poverty

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JAMES PASLEY

Auck­land is a city di­vided by trees.

Auck­land Coun­cil data shows across the city ur­ban trees cover on av­er­age 18 per cent of land. But de­pend­ing on the sub­urb that fig­ure can fluc­tu­ate be­tween 8 per cent and 74 per cent.

Ma¯ngere, ta¯huhu, tara, Pa­p­a­toe­toe, Ma­nurewa and Pa­pakura have an av­er­age of 10.5 per cent tree cov­er­age, while cen­tral ar­eas like Waitem­ata¯, Whau, Al­bert Eden, Puketa¯papa and

ra¯kei av­er­aged 19.3 per cent - al­most dou­ble the amount of trees.

Ear­lier this month Auck­land Coun­cil ap­proved a strate­gic plan to plant trees and bol­ster cov­er­age, favour­ing na­tive species and pro­mot­ing eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dors and ur­ban forests on pri­vate and pub­lic land.

But Univer­sity of Auck­land bi­ol­ogy se­nior lec­turer Mar­garet Stan­ley said it would take years be­fore new trees would pro­vide the sparsely cov­ered ar­eas with men­tal and phys­i­cal health benefits.

The dis­par­ity re­flects in­equity in Auck­land, Stan­ley said.

‘‘Peo­ple in those low so­cioe­co­nomic ar­eas are less likely, if they’re working two jobs, to worry about tree pro­tec­tion in their neigh­bour­hood and plant­ing trees,’’ Stan­ley said.

‘‘If you’ve got re­duc­tions on trees it has bad flow on ef­fects for lives of res­i­dents in those ar­eas - for their men­tal and phys­i­cal well be­ing.’’

Benefits like car­bon stor­age, canopy shad­ing, re­duced air pol­lu­tion and flood­ing mit­i­ga­tion came from trees more than eight me­tres tall, she said.

Newly planted trees would take years to reach that height, she said.

It was widely recog­nised that men­tal health im­proved with coun­cil cut rates for prop­erty own­ers who had large trees on pri­vate prop­er­ties, to recog­nise the stormwa­ter and pol­lu­tion benefits, Stan­ley said.

SUP­PLIED

Univer­sity of Auck­land bi­ol­ogy se­nior lec­turer Mar­garet Stan­ley says it will take years be­fore new trees pro­vide men­tal and phys­i­cal health benefits.

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