Council monitoring health of two protected elms

The Dunedin City Council is monitoring the health of two protected elms to check they have not been affected by the realignment of State Highway 88 near the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Council parks and reserves team leader Lisa Wheeler said staff would not be able to tell if there was any new stress on the trees until there was some spring growth.

However, the two trees were being inspected once every two months, and so far had shown no signs of stress since the road was completed in mid-2011.

The inspections were normal practice following any major works near the root systems of trees.

The trees were near the Frederick St intersection and a bit further north, on what used to be the other side Anzac Ave.

The first tree (tree 1 in the picture) was originally in the alignment of the kerb to go around the corner from Frederick St. However, after input from council staff, the contractor altered the plans to better accommodate the tree.

Asked why the tree appeared to be dying back in the centre, she said the tree had a split canopy and one canopy lost its leaves earlier than the other each year. The tree was not sick.

An anonymous caller contacted the Otago Daily Times recently, concerned that the tree was dying since the road went in.

They believed the road was closer to the trees that would have been allowed in any consent.

Ms Wheeler said the other tree (tree 2) was in a new green space near the Hocken Library.

She said trenches were dug on either side of the tree during the road's construction and machinery was parked beside the tree, which could cause compacting.

Another tree, north of the Mobil station (tree 3), that had a large amount of deadwood on one of its central stems, had been dying back for several years and started to shows signs before any work started on the road.

The tree was largely unaffected by the new road alignment.

Ms Wheeler said the trees were part of an avenue of "magnificent" elms in Anzac Ave that often needed closer monitoring as the trees' roots got "a whole lot" of disturbance from underground pipes, which required work from time to time.

The SH88 realignment was done before she took on her role, but she was aware her staff had been involved with site visits, which had resulted in the alteration of plans to better accommodate the tree near Frederick St.

Jane Macleod, from the council's planning department, said Anzac Ave, including the land containing the trees, was designated in the district plan for State Highway purposes.

Within designations, normal resource consent requirements did not apply.

However, an "outline plan" giving construction details and details of any mitigation measures necessary to avoid adverse effects on the environment, must be submitted to, and approved by, the council's planning department before work being done within a designation.

A copy of the outline plan was not able to be seen yesterday, but she said the roading work on Anzac Ave was carried out in accordance with the plan.

"The design of the road included careful consideration of the location of the protected trees,the relevant tree experts were consulted before and during construction, and the work was carried out in an appropriate manner."

Ms Wheeler said ensuring trees' health was a constant issue when works were being done around the city, and she was taking steps to more closely monitor compliance with requirements to avoid adverse effects on trees.

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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