New plan going out on park tree replacement

The public will have its say on the future of trees in Livingstonia Park in Taieri Mouth when the council puts forward a new proposal for a two-stage replacement process, after an arborist found most of the 70 trees along the park's seafront are showing signs of natural decay.

Several people spoke about the trees at the Clutha District Council's district assets committee this week, after 32 submissions were received on the trees' future.

The council recently consulted on three options - maintaining existing trees until they had to be removed (cost of about $2000 per year); felling the trees, and making the firewood available to the local community, the brushwood chipped and spread over the dunes to assist with the replanting of a similar species (costing about $10,000); or felling the trees for firewood for the local community and not replanting so as to reduce ongoing maintenance costs.

Council district assets manager Jules Witt said submissions were evenly split between retaining the trees with ongoing pruning, and removing them all now.

Most said it was preferable to replant before removing the existing trees to ensure the park was sheltered.

The committee decided to put forward a new proposal for consultation - a two-stage replacement process for the trees beginning with selective pruning and planning of replacement trees before felling the old trees over a five, seven or 10-year period.

The proposal would also include the immediate removal of 13 or 14 trees at the southern end of the park, after a request from the Taieri Mouth Amenities Society.

Mr Witt said the new proposal would go out over the next few weeks, with submissions closing some time in January.

More than 30 people attended a public meeting in Taieri Mouth in September to discuss options for the park's trees, which were planted by men of the Otago-Southland War Amputees Association.

Livingstonia Park backs on to Taieri Beach and is sheltered from the wind by a row of about 70 pine trees. It features a playground, a wide playing field, picnic tables and chairs, as well as an information kiosk on its history and the role of the Otago-Southland War Amputees Association in creating the park.

Last year, the council felled one of the pine trees at the southern end of the park after a request from the Taieri Mouth Amenities Society, as the tree was dying.

Before the tree was felled, an independent arborist assessed the condition of all the trees and found that most of them were showing signs of senescence - a normal part of the ageing process for trees - which was visible in a decline in the upper canopy and a thinning of the crown.

This was expected to lead to the ''inevitable loss'' of more trees because of wind and storm damage, and this would have a snowball effect, as the removal of trees at each end would put further pressure on the ability of the remaining trees to survive.

- helena.dereus@odt.co.nz

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