Carrot or Stick?
When I was at the Civic Forum on the Unitary Plan, the discussion about trees on private property popped up. The basic question on trees that reside on one’s private property was: should a private property owner have to go through the motions with the bureaucracy to remove a tree from their property (so we could be looking at permits, restoration costs and even possibly having your decision in wanting a tree (especially if it is a protected tree)) – so the big stick; or should a private property owner be able to freely remove their tree providing it does not cause high detriment to the local environment (increased erosion being the main one) and that the owner replaces the tree with another tree either on their property or in a public park/reserve – so a carrot or rather incentive.
Councillor Penny Webster raised the idea of using the carrot rather than a stick at the Civic Forum where private property owners could freely remove a tree on their property if it was causing shading onto the house, or as a hazard to the house or surrounding utilities (power, water, sewerage) providing the fact the owner replaced that tree with another one on their own property or at a near by public park or reserve.
Right now I am about to go through the motions of removing a Bottle-brush tree from the front on my property. The tree blocks sunlight in the winter (thus chilling the house) and has branches interfering with power lines. At the same time the tree is also a home and feeding place for our resident Tui birds who enjoy making a racket in the morning before the sun is up (noisy buggers). Now I am going to be presented with two options here when removing that tree: utter bureaucracy (outside of the fact I need to inform Vector so the power can be isolated) to have the tree removed; or Council will let me just get on with the job removing the tree as I am going to replace it with a Kowhai at the other end of the property away from the overhead wires (as well as it won’t shade the house).
In replacing the Bottle-brush with a Kowhai, Mr and Mrs Tui bird won’t lose out – in fact they gain with a native tree (the Kowhai which is their favourite) replacing the Bottle-brush tree. And in replacing with a native I do my little bit for Green Society in preserving a habitat while getting some extra value onto my property valuation (just don’t tell Council or I might get a rates rise 😉 ).
And so I ask this question to readers: Status quo (the stick) when it comes to removing trees; or the replacement idea (so incentive) when wanting to remove a tree on your property.