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