The Government has distanced itself from the Auckland Council decision to allow the destruction of a centuries-old kauri and rimu trees in Titirangi to make way for two houses, the Green Party said today.
When asked by Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage in Parliament today about the lack of protection afforded to the kauri by the Resource Management Act, Environment Minister Nick Smith said it was up to councils to decide the fate of such trees and he would not change the RMA or use it to give them more protection.
“Slashing the protection for urban trees like these kauri and rimu in the last round of changes to the RMA have left our most treasured species exposed,” Ms Sage said.
“Nick Smith cannot justify gutting the RMA further when trees like these magnificent kauri and rimu can be felled so easily. What’s next? When are we going to see kiwi nests concreted over?
“National’s proposals to strengthen private property rights in the RMA will make it even easier for developers and landholders to destroy or degrade natural landscapes and indigenous habitats for commercial gain.
“In January, Dr Smith told Nelson Rotary Club that there needed to be stronger national consistency and direction around the RMA. Yet today he refused to progress a national policy statement on indigenous biodiversity to give councils like Auckland clear guidance on how to implement their RMA responsibility to maintain indigenous biodiversity.
In recent years, kauri dieback disease has claimed thousands of trees. Research shows that less than one percent of old growth kauri forests are still alive today.
“With Government washing its hands of responsibility for ensuring councils better protect our wild nature and indigenous habitats, the outlook for urban trees and kauri, rimu and other habitat on private land is grim,” Ms Sage said.