Call to increase city's biodiversity

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GISBORNE District Council has been called on to plant more native trees and boost the district’s wildlife through its Community Facilities Strategy.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) Turanganui a Kiwa office, and the Women’s Native Tree Project Trust submitted that the strategy needed a greater focus on enhancing biodiversity.

“It would be good to see some more progressive thinking about Gisborne becoming a biodiversity-friendly city,” DoC community engagement supervisor Charles Barrie said.

“People regularly see kereru and tui around the urban fringe. Bringing them into the city is totally achievable and likely desirable for many ratepayers.”

The strategy was a chance for DoC, the council and iwi to work together on biodiversity, and not think about parks as individual spaces but as part of a wider, connected landscape. This included a focus on flight lines, watercourses, fish passage and habitat corridors.

“There are some really exciting landscape-scale collaboration visions emerging in our district, and it is important the plan not only enables, but actively encourages this kind of thinking and management.”

A paper prepared by council staff this year, detailed methods of incentivising biodiversity enhancement on private land.
Mr Barrie said those findings should be incorporated into the council’s own planning.

“This plan presents an opportunity to significantly increase the number of indigenous plants and habitat trees in central Gisborne and to align the urban design strategy with the findings and recommendations of the recent discussion paper.

“To not have an increased focus on biodiversity and ecological connectivity in the street trees plan is at best a missed opportunity, and at worse hypocritical messaging from the council, if we are encouraging private landowners to take biodiversity-enhancing actions and not doing the same in public spaces.”

Women’s Native Tree Project Trust

The Women’s Native Tree Project Trust submitted they would also like to see native revegetation continue on council land, and a greater focus on ecological connectivity and biodiversity in the plans.

Exotics could be eventually replaced with native forest, which the trust could assist with, representative Gillian Ward said.

While many of the council’s parks contained large amounts of native flora, including rimu, totara, kahikatea, kohekohe, puriri, there were also many weeds.

“Weed control is all that is needed to encourage further regeneration,” Ms Ward said.

The trust called for a wider range of native trees to be included in the Street Trees Plan.

“We recommend native trees, in particular those native to the Tairawhiti, be chosen as street trees where possible, in preference to exotic trees.”

The council officer’s response to the submissions agreed the council had a role to play in improving the region’s indigenous biodiversity.

It recommended amending the Parks and Open Spaces plan to add ecological issues and biodiversity to the objectives, and strengthen its biodiversity policies.

It agreed the Street Trees and Gardens plan should include a greater number of native species, as long as they were suited to the environment.

Some exotics were better suited to urban environments, regarding planting and maintenance issues, safety considerations and ability to handle pollution.

It also said exotic trees provided greater sun during winter months, unlike most natives which were evergreen.

GISBORNE District Council has been called on to plant more native trees and boost the district’s wildlife through its Community Facilities Strategy.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) Turanganui a Kiwa office, and the Women’s Native Tree Project Trust submitted that the strategy needed a greater focus on enhancing biodiversity.

“It would be good to see some more progressive thinking about Gisborne becoming a biodiversity-friendly city,” DoC community engagement supervisor Charles Barrie said.

“People regularly see kereru and tui around the urban fringe. Bringing them into the city is totally achievable and likely desirable for many ratepayers.”

The strategy was a chance for DoC, the council and iwi to work together on biodiversity, and not think about parks as individual spaces but as part of a wider, connected landscape. This included a focus on flight lines, watercourses, fish passage and habitat corridors.

“There are some really exciting landscape-scale collaboration visions emerging in our district, and it is important the plan not only enables, but actively encourages this kind of thinking and management.”

A paper prepared by council staff this year, detailed methods of incentivising biodiversity enhancement on private land.
Mr Barrie said those findings should be incorporated into the council’s own planning.

“This plan presents an opportunity to significantly increase the number of indigenous plants and habitat trees in central Gisborne and to align the urban design strategy with the findings and recommendations of the recent discussion paper.

“To not have an increased focus on biodiversity and ecological connectivity in the street trees plan is at best a missed opportunity, and at worse hypocritical messaging from the council, if we are encouraging private landowners to take biodiversity-enhancing actions and not doing the same in public spaces.”

Women’s Native Tree Project Trust

The Women’s Native Tree Project Trust submitted they would also like to see native revegetation continue on council land, and a greater focus on ecological connectivity and biodiversity in the plans.

Exotics could be eventually replaced with native forest, which the trust could assist with, representative Gillian Ward said.

While many of the council’s parks contained large amounts of native flora, including rimu, totara, kahikatea, kohekohe, puriri, there were also many weeds.

“Weed control is all that is needed to encourage further regeneration,” Ms Ward said.

The trust called for a wider range of native trees to be included in the Street Trees Plan.

“We recommend native trees, in particular those native to the Tairawhiti, be chosen as street trees where possible, in preference to exotic trees.”

The council officer’s response to the submissions agreed the council had a role to play in improving the region’s indigenous biodiversity.

It recommended amending the Parks and Open Spaces plan to add ecological issues and biodiversity to the objectives, and strengthen its biodiversity policies.

It agreed the Street Trees and Gardens plan should include a greater number of native species, as long as they were suited to the environment.

Some exotics were better suited to urban environments, regarding planting and maintenance issues, safety considerations and ability to handle pollution.

It also said exotic trees provided greater sun during winter months, unlike most natives which were evergreen.

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