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Tree felling at Wharerangi Cemetery.

Tree Felling

After the 1931 earthquake, new landscape meant space for new trees.

City leaders planted the land with trees that were hardy and fast growing, such as pine trees, macrocarpa and gum trees. These can be seen at Park Island and the western hills around Napier. The downside to planting these types of trees is they have a relatively short lifespan. After around 70 years they become unsafe, with trees falling becoming a huge risk to people and property.

Last year Napier City Council began removing the ageing pine and gum trees in the hill sides around Wharerangi cemetery and replanting with native trees and shrubs. The pine tree timber has been sold to Panpac and the money is being used to fund the new plantings. A small number of redwood and swamp cypress trees have been kept as they don’t pose any danger to the community.

There is much work still to be done, but already the area has been quickly transformed. The new vegetation planted last year is growing rapidly and a network of walkways in the cemetery area will be established.

Planting native trees and shrubs has many benefits. A long-term native forest means residents in 50 or 60 years’ time won’t have to worry so much about safety concerns. The native trees will last hundreds of years. Residents of the distant future will see towering totara trees – more like what Napier may have looked like in pre-European times.

There is another rationale for planting native vegetation – bringing back Napier’s natural biodiversity. Native birds and wildlife are expected to return and will increase within the future forest canopy.

Image: Tree felling at Wharerangi Cemetery.

15 June 2022

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