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Tree maintenance programme begins along Heathcote River

12 March 2008

Tree maintenance has started along the Heathcote River area from Colombo Street to Opawa Road after assessments found many of the trees to be in poor condition.

A significant rise in the number of trees collapsing along the river corridor as a result of storms and structural problems with some trees, especially in the old and over-mature willows, has been noted recently.

As a result, Council arborists carried out a condition assessment of all trees along the river corridor and commissioned an independent Arboricultural Consultant to also assess the trees. This initial survey found 30 major trees (some more than 10m plus in height) needed to be removed and a further 220 trees should be programmed for removal over the next three years because of their  poor condition.

Trees deemed to be the most hazardous and which could not be made safe through pruning were the first to be removed.

Additional funding from other areas of the city’s tree maintenance budget became available, so Council staff decided to carry out a full maintenance prune of all  trees on the River Corridor at the same time.

Arborist Shane Moohan says “Our aim is to bring the whole River Corridor back up to an acceptable arboricultural condition and to enhance the character of the river environment. This additional work will also remove trees which are of poor form, dying, in poor condition or diseased and in significant decline’’.

“The  work has also has shown that some trees which initially seemed to be reasonably safe actually have significant structural problems. We find this out during pruning when we climb all trees and get a more detailed safety inspection which can show structural issues not initially visible from the ground,’’ says Mr Moohan.

“Council has a Duty of Care to ensure all city trees are kept in a safe and healthy condition, so we have had no alternative but to remove these trees.’’

Council is also has a landscaping  and planting strategy to replace the lost trees and  this document will soon be open to public consultation as part of the Mid-Heathcote River project, says Mr Moohan.

Some initial planting is expected to take place from May to August 2008, however the majority of the replanting will occur over the coming 3 -5 years following completion of the public consultation on the future river landscape.  Replacement planting has already been completed in Hansen Park where several willows in significant decline were removed last year.

Residents would be given advanced notice where works could affect access to streets, says Mr Moohan.

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