Queenstown trees tipped for felling get temporary reprieve

An artist’s impression shows what Queenstown’s Brecon St will look like in the future, minus five...
An artist’s impression shows what Queenstown’s Brecon St will look like in the future, minus five eucalyptus trees, which will be felled on Monday. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
Five eucalyptus trees in Queenstown have received a stay of execution, for now.

Due to be felled on Monday, to make way for a 4-metre cycle path, part of an upgrade of Brecon St, in a statement this afternoon, the council said their removal had been "temporarily put on hold".

That is because the trees are home to tui, kereru and fantail and it is believed the latter two are building their nests in the trees at present.

Under the Wildlife Act 1953, it is against the law to ‘‘rob, disturb or destroy’’ the nest of any protected wildlife or game.

Penalties include fines up to $10,000 for individuals, plus at least $500 for each head of wildlife and egg, or, for body corporates, fines up to $200,000 for partially protected wildlife or game.

For absolutely protected species, the maximum penalty for individuals was up to two years’ imprisonment, or a fine of up to $100,000 for individuals.

Forest & Bird Otago-Southland regional conservation manager Rick Zwaan said if native birds were building their nests in the eucalyptus trees at present, ‘‘it’s quite concerning’’.

PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Under the Wildlife Act 1953, it is against the law to ‘‘rob, disturb or destroy’’ the nest of any protected wildlife or game. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
‘‘The Wildlife Act provides general protections for native birds, and I’m unaware if the council has sought a permit from DoC [Department of Conservation] to disturb their nests.

‘‘Queenstown has a significant number of special trees [and is] recognised as a Tree City of the World.

‘‘It should be doing what it can to ensure they’re looked after, rather than cutting them down and removing nesting sites for native birds,’’ Mr Zwaan said.

The Otago Daily Times asked Doc yesterday if the council had sought, or been granted, a permit under the Act for the tree removal.

In its statement today, the council said the project's postponement was to allow for an ecological report on the trees to be prepared and "the possibility of nesting native birds to be investigated''.

"A further Councillor briefing will be held early next week and an update on next steps will follow soon after."

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz 

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