To: Jacinda Ardern and Euginie Sage

PROTECT NEW ZEALAND'S URBAN TREES

PROTECT NEW ZEALAND'S URBAN TREES

Change the Resource Management Act Amendments, Sections 76(4A,B,C and D) to allow for more urban tree protection.

New Zealand is losing urban tree coverage at an alarming rate due to the RMA changes made by the National Government. Please stop the urban tree loss before it is totally irreversible!

Why is this important?

New Zealand wide, urban trees are now grossly unprotected due to amendments to the Resource Management Act (RMA). 'Blanket tree protection' has now effectively been removed allowing for indiscriminate felling of our urban forests.

Urban trees make enormous contributions to society and the environment and are an integral part of urban infrastructure, helping to create liveable cities of the future.

REVERSE THE RMA CHANGES!

Please sign this petition and fight to protect one of our most valuable resources and show the world we are serious about the issues that face our environment.  

Nick Smith, National's minister of the environment, set about making amendments to the RMA that were enshrined in the Act by 2013. Prior to these amendments, councils only had to list trees by species, and for the trees to be above a certain size to be protected which created ‘blanket’ protection.

After September 5th 2015 the following protections applied:

- Individual, or groups of identified trees may be scheduled on a list of ‘Notable Trees’ by councils.  The trees first have to be nominated and pass a set criteria devised by councils in order to gain this ‘protected’ status.
- Significant Ecological Areas (SEAs) and other similar categories identified as an overlay on a council plan prohibit the removal of vegetation from these areas.
 
Trees on an urban plot that don't fall into any of the above categories are able to be pruned or felled without resource consent from council.  These trees may be of any age and species - native or not.

There are significant shortfalls to this strategy:

- Nationally only a small percentage of urban trees on private land are currently protected.
- These forms of protection can be removed if council consent is granted.
- Additional trees and SEAs can be nominated but but can only be protected after acceptance in a future plan change of current Unitary or District Plans. In Auckland's case this won't take place for several years.What will we lose in the meantime?
- Nominations for additional Notable Trees face tough eligibility criteria by Council, including crucially the property owner's decision to agree to the nomination.
- The Resource Management Act currently prohibits a council’s attempt to create any form of general or blanket protection.

THERE HAS ALREADY BEEN A RAPID DECLINE OF OUR URBAN FORESTS!

Evidence suggests ONE THIRD of urban forest in Auckland has already been removed since blanket tree protection was removed in 2015.

With grave implications faced by global warming due to excessive CO2 emissions, the
Government has made a bold commitment to reducing national levels. This fact bestows an even greater value to trees, urban or elsewhere. It is therefore absurdly contradictory that the previous Government took such a relaxed stance on protecting the very resource that serves us in this regard.
The new Government must make every decision regarding climate change count.
 
All around the world there are strategies that have been created by Governments and organisations to increase urban tree density in order to meet air quality and temperature targets, reduce erosion, increase biodiversity, improve the mental health of populations and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

New Zealand needs an holistic urban forest management strategy that:

- adequately protects and nurtures our existing urban forests;
- allows councils to implement sound protection laws with practical
consideration given to pruning, maintenance and mitigation planting;
- sets a precedent on urban biodiversity for our expanding and intensifying cities.

A recent Auckland University study headed by Margaret Stanley shows the current dilemma: central Auckland tree cover (over 8 metres tall) is only 6% of the land area, 63.2% of which was on private land. Of these trees, approximately 15% were protected. Link:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204615001127 )

Forests are the lungs of the world. We need to nurture and protect our urban forests as much as possible to play our part as responsible global citizens and enable our growing cities to be truly liveable for future generations.

 I urge you to encourage the Government to review the RMA and re-introduce blanket tree protection to protect our urban forests before it is too late.
 
Please sign this petition and keep NZ green.
 
Ross McCreadie
https://www.facebook.com/protectoururbantrees/

For further action visit the Forest and Bird website and click on ‘Take action’ to join the fight to save the RMA. Link: http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/savetheRMA

How it will be delivered

The signatures will be delivered via email.


Reasons for signing

  • the sensible balance has tipped
  • General tree protection needs to be reinstated, the crisis is clear. Mature trees are coming down all over the city.
  • Recently returned to NZ after six years abroad and the clearance of mature tree canopies across Auckland was very noticeable - and is simply disgraceful given the 'clean green' marketing hyperbole that this nation runs on. I am saddened that National's short-sighted business interests morphed the Resource Management Act into the 'Resource Development Act' and wish for this to be reversed.

Updates

2015-12-24 06:34:49 +1300

500 signatures reached

2015-09-22 20:51:08 +1200

100 signatures reached

2015-09-22 15:33:43 +1200

50 signatures reached

2015-09-22 14:22:27 +1200

25 signatures reached

2015-09-17 10:47:19 +1200

10 signatures reached