Policy for the South Waikato’s street trees
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.