Pol­icy for the South Waikato’s street trees

South Waikato News - - Your Local News - LUKE KIRKEBY

Tighter rules around the South Waikato’s street trees could soon come into force.

Dur­ing the South Waikato District Coun­cil’s monthly meet­ing on Thurs­day the coun­cil dis­cussed a pro­posed street tree pol­icy.

Parks and Re­serves of­fi­cer Phil Parker said the aim was to give more power to staff to be able to main­tain and mon­i­tor the district’s street trees.

‘‘There has been poor de­ci­sion mak­ing in the past and in man­ag­ing our street trees,’’ he said.

‘‘It would be ben­e­fi­cial to have a for­mal pol­icy in place to pro­vide comprehensive pro­to­col for all as­pects of tree main­te­nance and man­age­ment.’’

The draft pol­icy cov­ers the likes of streetscape de­sign, tree se­lec­tion, po­si­tion­ing, plant­ing, main­te­nance, pub­lic and coun­cil en­gage­ment, and tree re­moval.

Un­der the pro­posal par­tic­u­lar de­cid­u­ous species that grow well in the district have been favoured.

Trees will also be planted at an equiv­a­lent rate of one per res­i­den­tial prop­erty with let­ters sent to res­i­dents be­fore­hand and when van­dalised will be re­placed the next win­ter but no more than three times.

Berms less than 500mm will not be se­lected for plant­ing and main­te­nance work will be de­ter­mined by an­nual inspections.

As far as tree re­moval is con­cerned this will be de­ter­mined by health, safety con­cerns, in­fras­truc­ture and berm dam­age, shad­ing is­sues, and van­dal­ism.

Parker said on av­er­age 150 trees are be­ing planted each year.

‘‘Main­te­nance wise we are look­ing at just un­der $10,500 a year and I would like to see Parks staff have greater abil­ity to do an­nual main­te­nance checks and as­sess­ments so go­ing for­ward they will be able to bet­ter pri­ori­tise, mon­i­tor and main­tain,’’ he said.

Coun­cil­lor Adri­enne Bell ques­tioned whether plant­ing more trees was a good idea.

‘‘We are all aware that we are strug­gling to main­tain what we al­ready have so how is that go­ing to be man­aged and is that all costed and bud­geted?’’ she said.

Parker said there will need to be an in­crease to the bud­get so that past fail­ures could be reme­died but once the pol­icy was in place it would elim­i­nate such fail­ures from re­cur­ring.

‘‘The big­gest ex­pense will be the re­moval of ma­ture trees,’’ he said. Dis­cus­sion will con­tinue in the com­ing months.

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