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Auckland Council

Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project

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

Restoring native forest in Western Springs

The pine trees in the forested area bordered by West View Road, Auckland Zoo and Western Springs Lakeside Park and Stadium are in poor health and declining. 

All the trees need to be removed to:

  • ensure the safety of the public
  • control weeds and animal pests
  • enable ecological restoration, including planting native trees.

There is a clear and ongoing history of trees dying, live trees toppling, and the trunks of live trees snapping where weakened by decay and insect tunnelling.

Each tree in the stand has been individually inspected and the results show that the majority of the trees are in poor health or dead. As the stand thins, the whole stand becomes even more vulnerable to wind and damage. Failure pattern records show that even trees with healthy canopies have snapped or toppled.

The pine stand is home to various native and exotic bird species, and the area will be inspected by an ecologist before the project starts.

The trees will be felled from the ground. Most of the wood will be removed or mulched, but some will be left behind to provide habitat for fauna.

Removing the pines will not affect the stability of the slope based on advice obtained from an independent geotechnical consultant. The area will be monitored throughout the project.

Track closed

The track through the trees was closed in April 2018 following a number of tree failures.

It remains closed due to concerns for the safety of path users as there is a high risk of trees toppling or snapping and falling onto the path. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 we had an obligation to close the track to protect the public.

Resource consent

The resource consent to fell the trees was granted in May 2019.

The commissioners accepted that removing the trees is necessary due to ongoing and increasing safety concerns related to the continuing decline and failure of the trees.

The resource consent decision is currently being appealed. The tracks will remain closed until we know the outcome. The timeframe for the appeal process is unknown at this point.

For more details on the project, see the Our Auckland article.

Project timeframe and area access

Subject to the appeal, the next window to remove the trees is March/April 2020. This is to avoid bird nesting season.

Once underway, we estimate that the project will take up to two months, with actual felling work taking about one and half months.

The planting will start immediately after the removals.

Ongoing maintenance of the new plantings may take several years.

The area, including the tracks, will be closed to the public until after the trees are removed.

Involving the community

Funding was allocated to the Western Springs Native Bush Restoration Project as part of the 2015-2025 Long-term Plan, which had a lot of support for its proposed environmental initiatives, particularly from mana whenua.

The track design will be confirmed with input from the local community, and we will also look for opportunities to involve the community in the planting.

Further information

For more information, email westernsprings@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.