Tracking Auckland’s biological heritage
Aucklanders have a new tool to help track the city’s tree heritage.
The Tree Council, a non-profit organisation established in 1986 to act as a steward for trees in Auckland, is launching a mobile app this week that will enable the public and arborists to record trees they value, trees being removed or trees already gone.
In 2015 the Government amended the Resource Management Act (RMA), which removed protection of trees in urban areas, and limited Auckland Council’s protection of notable or scheduled trees.
Tree Council chair and arborist Sean Freeman said the rationale for the app was to try and create an accessible, useful reporting tool to monitor Auckland’s urban tree coverage loss.
While Auckland Council had satellite imagery of Auckland’s tree coverage, it didn’t give an accurate assessment of what was taking place on the street level, he said.
‘‘This is a ground-truthing tool,’’ Freeman said.
What became clear during Unitary Plan hearings was that there wasn’t enough data to assess how Auckland’s tree coverage was changing, Freeman said.
‘‘It will add a lot of weight to submissions that are made during resource consent applications about the importance of retaining trees.’’
The app, which was designed by Steven Mcleod, would have two levels of use.
Once downloaded the public would be able to enter basic information about a tree, take a photo and add GPS coordinates.
Arborists would be able to enter more specialised information such as habitat type, location, health, size, whether the tree was scheduled and reason for working on it.
‘‘Sadly the driver for this is the pressure and resulting loss of urban forest that we’re seeing across the city,’’ Freeman said.
Auckland Council data showed across the city urban trees cover on average 18 per cent of land, but fluctuated from 8 per cent to 74 per cent between suburbs.
‘‘Some suburbs are so disproportionately lacking in canopy coverage, like O¯ ta¯ huhu, that you cannot afford to lose what few trees you’ve got.’’
The app launch is part of New Zealand Tree Week to help people better understand the role and value of trees in the urban environment.
The week runs until October 15.