Annoyed landowners chopping down trees to avoid environmental safety status

Landowners in Wellington are finding all over guidelines meant to shield natural biodiversity on non-public land by chopping down trees and clearing indigenous bush.

The Wellington Town Council is poised to contain new guidelines for Significant Organic Parts (SNAs) as element of its new district prepare, which will suggest Wellingtonians with unusual or threatened native ecosystems on their assets will find them selves not able to distinct or develop it.

Substantial Organic Places were first released in the Resource Management Act in 1991, with councils charged with identifying and guarding regions with sizeable spots of indigenous biodiversity.

The new district plan is established to appear into effect in July, after which time inhabitants will have to find the removing or alteration of the SNA classification if they want to make changes to their land – whether or not it be creating a property, or pulling out a shrub.

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Kaiwharawhara resident and property developer Brent Slater has been told he can't build on a section of regenerating bush on his property, thanks to new Significant Natural Area (SNA) classifications set to come into effect later this year.


Kaiwharawhara resident and residence developer Brent Slater has been informed he are unable to develop on a segment of regenerating bush on his residence, thanks to new Considerable Pure Location (SNA) classifications set to occur into influence later on this calendar year.

Brent Slater owns a 4000-sq.-metre area in Kaiwharawhara, with harbour sights and an spot of regenerating native bush established to be guarded as an SNA.

Slater called it “theft by stealth”, with options to make a second property on the “million-dollar site” set to be scuppered by the limitations.

“The generation of SNAs is an admirable principle which would extend the town belt in Wellington for potential generations to take pleasure in, but it must not be introduced in at the expenditure of a several.”

In the meantime, neighbours had been finding out of these limitations by eliminating the vegetation in advance of the safety could be applied. “Four of them got chainsaws for Xmas,” Slater mentioned.

A snapshot of the council's map, which is part of the public-facing information campaign Backyard Tāonga, shows the extent of the areas to be classed as SNAs across Wellington.


A snapshot of the council’s map, which is element of the public-dealing with details campaign Yard Tāonga, displays the extent of the regions to be classed as SNAs throughout Wellington.

Mayoral candidate and founder of the SNA Wellington Committee, Barbara McKenzie, stated folks had been sad to take away indigenous biodiversity from their homes, but felt they had no preference.

“People are in a quandary,” she reported. “They want the solution [to build later]. They could have a kid who could create there, or want to put in a granny flat in 10 years’ time.”

Stuff has witnessed email messages amongst council personnel and a different resident about removing indigenous vegetation, expressing “such decisions are yours to make”.

Some of Brent Slater’s neighbours have resorted to cutting down trees before they are protected.


Some of Brent Slater’s neighbours have resorted to chopping down trees ahead of they are guarded.

Council main setting up officer Liam Hodgetts said there ended up no authorized repercussions for landowners who chose to eliminate vegetation right up until the district approach was finalised later this yr.

Officers had by no means inspired or implied that vegetation ought to be taken out. “However at this stage in time it is not unlawful to take away it.”

Neighborhood engagement on SNAs began in 2019 “to make it possible for lots of time to operate a person on one with affected landowners”, and allow for landowners to challenge ecology assessments, Hodgetts explained.

The area of regenerating bush in front of the house was earmarked for a new house with a “million-dollar view”, which won’t be able to go ahead if SNA restrictions are placed upon it.


The region of regenerating bush in entrance of the property was earmarked for a new dwelling with a “million-greenback view”, which won’t be able to go in advance if SNA restrictions are positioned on it.

“We intentionally took this intense solution to engagement due to the fact we knew that there was a opportunity chance that folks may possibly transfer to eliminate SNAs even though it was still legal to do so. As a end result we haven’t observed a hurry to eliminate vegetation.”

Following examining submissions on the district system, the council was drafting amendments to the regulations to enable a lot more flexibility for specified routines in an SNA without the need of the want for useful resource consent.

Forest & Chicken spokesperson Amelia Geary claimed numerous significant ecosystems were almost totally restricted to non-public land, and landowners and councils need to function jointly to defend areas exactly where regionally rare or threatened plants or animals have been still found – “special destinations [which] have usually been looked immediately after by earlier and present landowners, which is why they nonetheless exist”.

“Habitat reduction is a single of the most important threats to New Zealand’s wildlife so it is important that we glance just after the sizeable regions we have remaining, no matter whether they are on community or private land.”