Aucklanders should ‘check before they chop’ because many trees in the region are protected, and will remain so when a law change comes into effect on 1 January 2012.
Councillor Ann Hartley, chair of Auckland Council’s Regional Development and Operations Committee, says it is vital people check with council before they take any action to fell or prune trees.
“Changes to the Resource Management Act, removing blanket protection of trees on private land in urban areas from 1 January 2012, do not apply to trees scheduled in district plans.
“And, in many parts of Auckland, larger non-scheduled trees on private land will still be protected. This means you will need a resource consent to fell or remove the tree.”
In 2009, Parliament amended the Resource Management Act 1991 to remove general (blanket) tree rules in urban areas, with effect from 1 January 2012. The amendment did not change the existing level of protection for “notable trees” listed in district plan schedules, or trees in parks or reserves and along roads.
An Environment Court ruling earlier this year also clarified that various trees “specifically identified” in a district plan, even though not scheduled, will have continued protection after 1 January 2012. These include clusters of trees and trees in coastal areas.
Council staff are compiling information to help Aucklanders understand where tree protection rules are removed on 1 January 2012, and where they remain in force. This material will published on Auckland Council’s website www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz and assistance provided via council’s call centre, planning and resource consent teams.
The council says that if you fell or damage a protected tree, you may be prosecuted and fined.
General tree protection rules will still apply to trees in the Hauraki Gulf islands, the Waitakere Ranges and in parts of all former city and district council areas, including much of Rodney and North Shore.
“If you are uncertain whether trees on your land are protected, phone the council on (09) 301 0101 for assistance,” said Councillor Hartley.
Additional trees for scheduling
In an associated move, plan changes adding about 1800 notable trees from 4000 nominated by the public will soon be publicly notified. The public will have the chance to make submissions to the council, once the district plan changes have been notified.