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Water restrictions lifted - Water restrictions in Auckland have been removed from 23 October 2021. Learn more

Te Kaupapa Whakaora i Ngā Tupu Taketake ki Ngā Puna o Waiōrea

Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project

Waitematā Local Board will return an area in Western Springs Park to native forest, providing an improved ecosystem for indigenous flora and fauna.

​About the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project

This project aims to enhance the ecological and amenity value of Western Springs Park. It will return the exotic pine dominated vegetation to native bush by planting trees including:

  • kauri
  • pūriri
  • taraire
  • tānekahe.

The native bush will provide an important habitat for a range of wildlife including our native tui, grey warbler and silvereye.

The project is expected to take around two months.

Restoring native bush in Western Springs

In 2015 the Waitematā Local Board approved the commencement of the ‘Western Springs Native Bush Restoration’ project.

The intent of the project was to undertake a programme of pine removal and native tree replanting over the next three years.

This was to meet the objective of the Western Springs Lakeside Park Plan and to remove the risk to public safety and adjacent properties.

Resource consent and decision to proceed with works

A resource consent was granted in September 2019 to remove the stand of pine trees.

In January 2020, the Waitematā Local Board Chair requested that the decision to proceed with the removal of the whole stand of pine trees under the resource consent be brought before the local board.

Restoration project updates

Western Springs pine tree removals – post felling reports

July 2021

The restorative planting  and track reinstatement at Western Springs Lakeside Te Waiōrea is now underway. Students from the nearby Pasadena Intermediate / Te Kura Takawaenga o Te Waitītiko helped to put the first 140 native trees and shrubs into the ground.

To read the full story, visit OurAuckland.

This was followed by a community planting day on Sunday 18 July, which was attended by more than 60 members of the community.

June 2021

On 24 May, the last of the pine trees were felled. In total, around 200 standing pines and poles were removed from Western Springs Lakeside Te Waiōrea.

Next steps include clearing the site and reinstating the temporary track, ahead of the planting programme getting underway in July.

April 2021

Work to establish the track for the excavator began on Friday 9 April, with the removal of some native and exotic vegetation.

On Tuesday 13 April, the first of the pine trees were felled and as of 30 April, 98 pine trees (including poles) have been removed, ranging in size from five to 42 metres.

Log chipping has now begun. The resulting mulch will be used in the restoration planting or moved off the site to be used in other restoration projects across Auckland.

23 Copper Skinks have been found during the works and relocated to Auckland Zoo.

March 2021 update

The first phase of the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project is about to begin, with work anticipated to start in early April 2021. 

This phase will see the felling of the remaining exotic radiata pines which are at the end of their natural life span.  This will be followed by the planting of around 8,000 native trees and shrubs such as Kauri, Taraire, Kohekohe, Puriri, Titoki, Kanuka, Mahoe, and Karamu. The floodplain of Motions Creek will also be restored with wetland and floodplain native plants, including Sedges, Flax, Manuka, Cabbage tree and Pukatea.

The felling works are anticipated to take between 8-10 weeks. Prior to this work, surveys for indigenous bats and lizards were undertaken (February-March). No bats were detected in the forest, although the ecologists working on site captured 14 Copper Skinks, and relocated them to a safe habitat in Auckland Zoo. Ecologists will continue to search for copper skinks during the construction of the access track as well as look for active bird nests.

November 2020 update

On 3 November 2020, the Waitematā Local Board voted to proceed with the existing resource consent to remove all pines trees in the forest at Western Springs Lakeside Te Wai Ōrea Park using the lower impact methods identified in Professor Visser's independent technical report to the extent legally possible within the resource consent.

By a majority, the local board agreed that whole stand removal of the pines using Professor Visser's lower impact methods would be the best option to meet the board's objectives for the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project (to protect the existing ecology, enable access to the forest and to comply with council's health and safety obligations).

The removal of the pine trees is intended to commence in early 2021 following the end of the bird nesting season. Removal of the pine trees and planting of the new native trees is expected to take around two months. It is anticipated that public access to the forest will be enabled around mid-2021.

October update 3

The Tree Consultancy Company (TCC) assessed 198 pine trees in the Western Springs Forest between 21 September and 8 October 2020. TCC has now provided the council with their final technical report following this assessment.

In addition, the council has received further independent technical reports from:
Dr Rien Visser University of Canterbury - this report comments on options for tree extraction in Western Springs Forest; and, Bioresearches – an ecological report.

October update 2

The Waitematā Local Board held a workshop on 13 October 2020. At this workshop the preliminary findings of an independent assessment of the pines were presented by The Tree Consultancy Company. The workshop provided the local board with an opportunity to ask questions directly to the external consultants about their findings and preliminary report.

The relationship with the Tree Consultancy Company has been managed via the council’s Assurance Services to ensure transparency and to give assurance that the advice provided is independent and expert advice.

The information contained the report produced by The Tree Consultancy Company will help inform staff advice to the local board on the reasonably practicable options available to achieve the objectives of the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project (to protect the existing ecology, enable access to the forest and to comply with council’s health and safety obligations), and the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

The following report is the preliminary report provided by The Tree Consultancy Company. The additional document provides an explanation on the VALID method. A final report will be available for the extraordinary meeting of the Waitematā Local Board on 3 November 2020.

October 2020 update 1

Council staff and the Waitematā Local Board have now engaged an external consultant to carry out an independent assessment of the pine tree stand in Western Springs Forest.

This assessment will provide additional information for the local board to consider when they make a decision over the next couple of months about whether to proceed with removing the full stand of pine trees as per the existing resource consent, or consider an alternative option to manage the trees. Given the risk of falling pine trees or tree branches, the forest remains closed to the public including when contractors are present.

The consultant’s independent report will be published on the council’s website when it is available.

The local board intends to take a decision on whether to proceed with the consented works on the pine trees at a business meeting on Tuesday 3 November 2020.

July 2020 update (amended October 2020)

There have been delays to the start of this project due to interruptions caused by the COVID-19 lockdown and the local board is yet to make a decision on whether or not to proceed with the consented works to remove the pine trees.

As the council has advised that some of the pine trees pose a health and safety risk, we have notified the residents and businesses most at risk.

By the end of July 2020, fencing will also be extended to prevent public access to the pine tree fall zone in Western Springs Lakeside Te Wai Ōrea.

March 2020 update (amended October 2020)

The Waitemata Local Board has voted to delay taking a decision on whether or not to proceed with the resource consent to remove the stand of pine trees.

The area will remain closed due to health and safety reasons, while the local board considers the future of the pine trees.

Further information

You can contact the project administrator for more details.

027 267 8818

If you wish to receive regular updates about the removal of the pine trees, or for more information, email westernsprings@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.