Auckland Council has been accused of causing an “ecological disaster” and stonewalling the community over inaction at a Ti Point forestry site since trees were felled three years ago.
Rodney Local Board deputy chair Beth Houlbrooke said the 11 hectares of land at the junction of Ti Point and Leigh Roads was in a terrible state, with weeds growing into trees and spreading into the surrounding area.
She said she frequently brought the issue up with staff at Council’s planning and property arm, Eke Panuku, but no one could tell her what was happening.
“Every time I make a request I’ve been told they’re working on a plan,” she said at the Board’s monthly meeting on June 22. “The community is immensely frustrated. It’s a bit of an ecological disaster. They must address this, report back to the Local Board and engage with the community.”
Houlbrooke said there was a group of local volunteers including an arborist ready and willing with a plan to help with planting, but they also couldn’t get a response from Panuku. The most recent update from Council on a Ti Point Forest Project Facebook page is dated December 29.
“They’re stonewalling. I request them to report back to the Board and to accelerate their planting programme.”
Houlbrooke said the site was so bad that it should be used as an example of what not to do after harvesting forestry.
“We preach about best practice after harvest and having a planting programme, but they haven’t done anything. It’s in a terrible state.”
The block of pines trees was harvested between July 2017 and the end of 2019. Even at that stage, there were community concerns over the rapid spread of weeds throughout the site.
An Eke Panuku spokesperson said last week they were still working on a plan, and they and Council understood and appreciated the community’s interest in working to regenerate the site.
“We are working with specialist contractor Treescape to deliver the pest plant eradication plan for this site,” the spokesperson said.
This would be a three-year schedule, with annual helicopter spraying and two ground sprays, by hand – one after the first aerial spray and the second six months later. The third year would involve targeted maintenance control of any re-infested areas.
“Aerial foliar applications require specific weather conditions and Treescape are currently working on a schedule for these to begin.
“There are some safety and access challenges on site due to the poor state of the tracks. However,
Auckland Council will work with the Rodney Local Board to identify how the community could be involved with the regeneration of this site going forward.”
The land, which includes a former landfill, was planted with pine trees nearly 30 years ago and was originally due to be harvested in 2013. However, that was postponed following the discovery of kauri snails, a protected species, and around 50 snails and 22 eggs were subsequently discovered and relocated to Auckland Zoo.