Alarmism

March 12th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald has a scary headline:

Law changes could see open season on trees

This sounds very bad doesn’t it. And the opening paragraph:

Councils say they will not be able to stop people cutting down native bush and coastal pohutukawa in cities under planned changes to environment laws.

And this sounds even worse, It conjures up thoughts of scores of people maurading through cities choppng down native trees they don’t like. They even has this photo of a huge pohutukawa in a park.

heraldtree

But what is the law change really about. We see this in the third paragraph:

If the change goes ahead, landowners will be free to cut down any tree on their land unless it is listed in their council’s district plan.

So we have this misleading photo, headline and opening paragraph. What the law change is about is what citizens can do to the trees they own on the land they own.

A massive difference.

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52 Responses to “Alarmism”

  1. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    Yes, I saw that earlier. What a load of croc. It’s about time that it requires significant difficulty to intefere with what landowners can do on their own dirt.

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  2. Aaron Bhatnagar (43 comments) says:

    I won’t comment on the specifics because the City Development committee I chair at Auckland City Council will be shortly making a submission in response to the RMA package announced by the government, but in relation to trees and urban forests etc it might be helpful to know that

    Since 2002, there have been around 16500 trees either trimmed or removed
    Since 2002, Auckland City has planted or facilitated the planting of over 102,000 trees.

    Therefore, there should not be any fears about mass deforestation, because the figures suggest Aucklanders have been great tree planters.

    Cr Aaron Bhatnagar
    Chairman, City Development Committee
    Auckland City Council

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  3. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    Trees! Who needs ‘em! Why on earth should anyone have any right to dictate what I do with my trees on my land? Why shouldn’t a developer, purchasing a section on which a pohutukawa has stood for 80 years, bowl the thing – it might be interfering with his plans (who cares about the neighbours, they should have bought the property if they love trees that much – stupid treehuggers) No matter that he might sell the property 6 months later – IT’S HIS LAND! He has every right. Stuff the ‘general good’, it’s all about his rights , right?

    [DPF: Finally you get it. They are his trees, not yours. Go plant your own. And if a tree truly has some unique value it can protected, but the change means home owners do not need to grovel to the local Council to just prune a tree on their land]

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  4. llew (1,532 comments) says:

    That’s the status quo anyway, isn’t it?

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  5. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    “IT’S HIS LAND! He has every right. Stuff the ‘general good’, it’s all about his rights , right?”

    Greenfly, that “general good” argument is the same one used by residents’ associations in various parts of the world to ensure that people can’t have their washing hung out in their own gardens (it ruins the look of the place, dontchaknow?), meaning the poor schlubs who live there have to use a dryer even in the most clement of drying weather.

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  6. Wycroft (816 comments) says:

    Tim Murphy (Herald editor), hang your head in shame.

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  7. llew (1,532 comments) says:

    That’s the status quo anyway, isn’t it?

    Ah – it IS as far as pohutukawas are concerned in my area.

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  8. ben (2,385 comments) says:

    Apart from the misleading headline and article, this sounds like an extremely good law change if you’re interested in having more natives planted.

    An excellent way to guarantee landowners will not plant any native trees on their land is to have a law that prevents its owner ever cutting it down. Net result: fewer natives, and more imports. Giving back land owners the right to remove natives will encourage more natives to be planted – provided land owners have confidence the government won’t one day change the law back.

    Which, of course, they can’t, because the Greens are illiterate in these matters.

    Same idea with the 90 day employment rule. Increasing exit costs deters entry.

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  9. jocko (110 comments) says:

    Didnt Sue Kedgley just go ahead and ‘savage’ the pohutakawa blocking her view in the green belt?
    No permit, no neighbourly consent – nor anything else to save the status quo.
    By their actions shall you know them rather than their exhortations & regulations for everyone else.

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  10. labrator (1,691 comments) says:

    How many trees are listed and what are the criteria for listing them? I remember the developer in Onehunga who hired a midnight chainsaw crew to hack a significant Pohutakawa down, that’s the sort of thing people are afraid of.

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  11. big bruv (12,319 comments) says:

    Did Jeanette Fitzsimons not ‘savage’ half of the trees in the Coromandel a few years back?

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  12. getstaffed (9,188 comments) says:

    A Green case of “I’ll hug it if it’s of no value… or chop it if it improves my property value”

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  13. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    GreenFly greenfly greenfly. Tut Tut Tut. Why is it that you believe that only you and your ‘kind’ are the only ones who appreciate the beauty of trees? The difference between us as I see it is, While I appreciate the beauty of nature I also understand that we can have progress and beauty. It is not an either/ or situation we can have both. And so we should. But you can not comprehend that in your little world can you?

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  14. Swampash (114 comments) says:

    I eagerly await the report on the carbon footprint of this open season.

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  15. peterwn (2,932 comments) says:

    There was a certain National MP (Christine Fletcher) who introduced a private members bill to legislate for blanket tree protection across NZ urban areas. She could probably have got the numbers to get it through. I think she got the message her continued candidacy was not welcome and did a stint as Mayor of Auckland until ousted by Banksie.

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  16. georgedarroch (301 comments) says:


    Councils say they will not be able to stop people cutting down native bush and coastal pohutukawa in cities under planned changes to environment laws.

    Which is absolutely true. There is no huge difference between this and the truth, because the two are the same. Important trees on private land deserve protection as of right – a council shouldn’t have to go out and count every single tree (of which there are hundreds of thousands) to do so.

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  17. Christopher (425 comments) says:

    Damn you Capitalist Pigs are thick!

    Don’t you understand that private property rights are dead?

    This is a complete step backwards!

    Society was well on its way to the path of truth and justice, and now look at us! We’re heading back to that old “people shouldn’t be told what to do by oversized and terminally inept government” crap. Surely that outdated notion has died with the historical revisions recently made by the Ministry of Truth!

    The people must be told! Private property was never the fundamental right that allowed humankind to rise above the squalor and poverty of its early years! No! The right to do as you wish with your own property is merely a front set up by racist, bigoted capitalist whores to blind the righteous proletariat!

    If we’re not careful, my brothers, Gaia-worship will lose its place as the Fundamental Truth of All Things! We will instead be inundated by outmoded concepts such as a “fundamental respect for the rights of individuals” and the torment of being showered in wealth, happiness and the general betterment of the human condition!

    We must stop this now!

    Hail Gaia! Gaia is great! Freedom is slavery!

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  18. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    What is that beautiful roar, what is that sweet smell, I know it’s my chainsaw and that sweet perfume is the sawdust flying through the air. I bet there are a few chains getting a touch up at the moment, common sense reins again. Boy wish I lived in Auckland the chain would be running red hot.

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  19. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..# big bruv (2986) Vote: Add rating 2 Subtract rating 1 Says:
    March 12th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Did Jeanette Fitzsimons not ’savage’ half of the trees in the Coromandel a few years back?..”

    are you talking about fitzsimons during her ‘lumberjack/chainsaw years’..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  20. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    so..bhatnagar…yr property developer mates will be handing out the backslaps to you..eh..?

    ..phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  21. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    Some time back when they brought in the rule about not being able to cut down, haircut or even fondle a certain size pohutukawa etc it caused the chopping down of a number of pohutukawas prior to the rule being applied as lots of people decided to get rid of them rather than not have the choice later. That was even funnier because project crimson had been quite successful and lot’s of people were happily planting pohutukawas. Nice trees.

    I’m on the shore and protected species vary by zone – you may perform minor pruning of no more than 10% of the foliage in 1 year and no more than 25% over 3 years (I think it’s changed as the last time I checked it was no more than 30% over 5 years). You may not remove a live branch if it is over 5 cm in diameter. Even so, they want to contact them prior to performing minor pruning on any native. What is protected depends on your zone – in many residential zones it is ALL natives are covered. In my zone I can trim any native tree < 8m in height and < 80 cm in girth. I need resource consent to do ANYTHING else. We have a lot of trees as it’s a large section and it is deliberately almost all kept as bush.

    We live on a sloping section that joins directly on to a reserve where there are a lot of common native trees (we are not talking anything rare or endangered or very pretty or old on our section). As we live on a slope the trees (on our land) only start to block the view when they are 8m or more high – so I’m meant to contact the council if I trim them and of course cannot touch the thicker branches – these trees are going great guns and grow quite quickly. I’m also a bit concerned about fire risk as they literally are against the deck rail and the side of the house. I hired a tree trimmer – confirmed the rules and set him loose. Someone from the council turned up to check while they were busy – must have received a phone call – we were within the stupid rules but that’s my rates money. An added point – these trees actually can NOT be seen from any other property because of other trees, slopes, fence lines etc.

    I see a number of them have started treelings – I obviously need to kill them now to save me hassles in the future. Death to trees.

    A couple of points –

    these are OK trees, but we are not talking anything special, look OK, not endangered etc.
    They are on my land and affect me – land I paid for.
    I am concerned about fire hazard.
    The council still has problems with effluent and it’s common for there to be problems swimming on some of our beaches – focus guys
    The council ring-barked all non-native, but large, old, established trees in a big reserve near us – it now looks like crap.
    They haven’t done anything about the enormous non-native pine on the reserve next to us, which if it goes will quite likely take out our house.

    Local councils are mickey mouse organisations anyway but give them a clipboard and a whistle ….. scary.

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  22. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    dpf..”.It conjures up thoughts of scores of people maurading through cities choppng down native trees they don’t like..”

    um..!..you’d have to be a total moron to read that interpretation..

    ..but it does conjure up thoughts of salivating property developers..wielding chainsaws..

    ..(y’know..!..bhatnagars’ ‘mates’..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  23. burt (7,083 comments) says:

    Not wanting to be too precious about it BUT… Pohutukawa were not naturally occuring below a line approx Taranaki to HB before people started planting them “further south”. Therefore they are only technically “native” above that line.

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  24. getstaffed (9,188 comments) says:

    Speaking of tree chopping… what’s the latest from Victoria in that regard?

    Will home owners there to able to clear trees from around their homes – like the couple that did so, were prosecuted, convicted, fined and now have no living neighbours?

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  25. Shiny (4 comments) says:

    i like trees.

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  26. Lou (43 comments) says:

    I’m so sick of the media’s Drive-By headlines. And TV’s just as bad as print.

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  27. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    i know what you mean ..lou..

    you need some http://www.whoar.co.nz/ in yr life..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  28. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    philu – you are such a link slut

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  29. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    The “journalist” who wrote this story is in my humble opinion, the kind of idiot that has brought the craft into utter disrepute. Advocacy journalism is not true journalism. Its propaganda. The Herald should fire this poseur. Check out all of the other like rubbish she has written-

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/eloise-gibson/news/headlines.cfm?a_id=366

    Mr Editor, are you really so fucked in the head that you don’t understand the simple point that it is exactly this kind of crap that is turning people off newspapers so completely?? Get rid of this unobjective propagandist and hire someone who will bring truth to your hopeless commie rag. Keep forcing propaganda down reader’s throats at your own peril.

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  30. Chthoniid (1,966 comments) says:

    I recall meeting up with a prominent NZ ecologist at a conference in Australia, where we spent a few minutes damning the local council rules on protecting trees.

    The disincentive it creates to plant native trees is palpable.

    As a counter, for over twnety years we have been encouraging- more or less by education- landowners in cities to plant native trees (and plants) to encourage native birds. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this has been the tui, whose resurgence in urban areas has been remarkable. In short, we’ve been busy planting native trees (both privately and via local authorities) at a rapid rate.

    The problem with the blanket rules, is that it elevates trees sitting in an ecological desert to some sacrosanct status devoid of conservation value.

    I much prefer positive rules to encoourage and restore the planting of trees, than the use of negative incentives- whioch transforms trees into libailities and nuisances to landowners.

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  31. James (1,338 comments) says:

    I love trees….they provides fuel for my barbie over summer when I cook the bomb scotch fillets after letting a shitload of co2 into the air making a lot of greenies carbon footprint reducing efforts pointless….

    I love trees…

    ;-)

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  32. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    Why should any tree on private property deserve protection from any civic authority at all? Historic value? Pffttt!
    Rarety value? Pfffttt! Home to something endangered? Pffft! Who gives a tinkers cuss, whether that tree has value of any kind and how can a developer be expected to know these things anyway??? Those trees are theirs and theirs alone!!
    It’s a private business, this ownership thing! No one has obligations to anyone else, if those ‘others’ haven’t put their money down. I love John Key! He’s our future!!!

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  33. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Well said greenfly.

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  34. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    Thanks side show! Furthermore, why can’t a landowner claim any water that moves across their land as well? Stuff the guy downstream. That water belongs to me when it becomes part of my land. To suggest that I need to care about the next guy is ludicrous. If his water supply dries up, it’s his problem! He should have bought the land upstream of mine. Any suggestion that trees benefit anyone other than the owner is lunatic treehugger madness.

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  35. racer (258 comments) says:

    How are dare the council tell me how loud I’m allowed to play my stereo on my property!!!

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  36. burt (7,083 comments) says:

    racer

    I can be a twat as well – how dare the council tell me I can’t keep my stash of dead bodies on my front lawn . ha ha ha ha – I’m so funny – Now F-OFF !

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  37. getstaffed (9,188 comments) says:

    One of the biggest beneficiaries of this has been the tui, whose resurgence in urban areas has been remarkable.

    Miramar peninsular was once deviod of these lovely birds. Not now. The possum eradication program had been an astounding success and there are now loads of Tuis. I’ve started planting trees to attract them. Useful link here.

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  38. burt (7,083 comments) says:

    On the subject of Pohutukawa trees.

    Scoop: Famous Tree Sparks Debate On Discovery Of NZ

    Pohutukawa quite at home in Spain While pohutukawa struggle in some parts of New Zealand, Dr Harris says they thrive in the coastal regions of Galicia.

    “Pohutukawa there are not subjected to possums. The frost-free conditions in coastal areas suit them nicely. New Zealand cabbage trees are also common in La Corunna, as are flaxes.

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  39. wikiriwhis business (3,269 comments) says:

    People have been waiting years for this to happen

    But even if it does go into law, most people are so used to council watch dogs it will probably take 5 years for it to sink in

    By that time the law could be reverted again. Esp under new councils.

    Besides, is this a national thing or just local.

    Are natives even allowed to be trimmed on properties

    The lady in Akld has been pruning trees for years for their benefit when the facist council moved to stop her with threats to her freedom.

    so we’re supposed to be excited about this.

    No council anywhere is going to blow a trumpet about it.

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  40. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    “Are natives even allowed to be trimmed on properties”

    I’ve ‘trimmed’ a couple of natives off my property over the years

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  41. Anthony (736 comments) says:

    WCC tried to impose silly rules that protected all trees over a certain size about 12 years ago. After a year or two they backed down and only ‘named’ trees were protected. As soon as I heard they changed the rules I called in an expert to chop down a couple of larger trees on the section where we wanted to build a house. We were able to then build the house with plenty of trees around the boundary.

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  42. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,784 comments) says:

    Chthoniid says on March 12th, 2009 at 6:34 pm:

    One of the biggest beneficiaries of this has been the tui, whose resurgence in urban areas has been remarkable.

    Tui is good beer.

    By New Zealand standards it is anyway.

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  43. ben (2,385 comments) says:

    Greenfly, as I’ve told you before, your own philosophy, sacrifice for the greater good, means you are a hypocrite just for breathing and polluting the environment for everyone else. You have to make an exception to your own rule just to exist.

    The computer you type your messages on, the clothes you wear, the food you eat and the car you drive was not produced by somebody sacrificing for the greater good. They were produced by people pursuing their private interests. Vastly, incomparably greater good emerges from the pursuit of self interest than from the state requiring private sacrifice. That’s true whether you find that distasteful or not.

    The kind of rules you think are a good idea will produce FEWER native trees because few will plant trees that impose severe constraints on their own property when you can do anything you like with non-natives.

    You green idiots do not realise that leaving people free to choose means markets produce in abundance the things that people value. Including, I am nearly certain, NZ native trees. If only you idiots would get out of the way give people the freedom to express that preference.

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  44. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    I recall ‘trimming’ council verge natives that encroached on my property that were strangely never trimmed by the council ‘except’ for over the road.

    Go figure, short one side, lower the other.

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  45. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    Green hypocrisy:

    How many trees can people who are forced to live in high density apartments under your Commie plans for society, plant and tend? How many vege gardens can they have? How many solar panels and wind turbines can they mount?

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  46. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    # getstaffed (2998) Vote: Add rating6 Subtract rating 2 Says:
    March 12th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    “Speaking of tree chopping… what’s the latest from Victoria in that regard?

    Will home owners there to able to clear trees from around their homes – like the couple that did so, were prosecuted, convicted, fined and now have no living neighbours?”

    The two people who gave you negative karma points, getstaffed, are lowlife pond scum. You are absolutely right. The sheer lack of conscience on the part of whatever Green supporters gave you those negative karma, is just breathtaking. It is well past time to smash this essentially anti-human movement for once and for all before it is too late.

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  47. Ryan Sproull (6,641 comments) says:

    How many trees can people who are forced to live in high density apartments under your Commie plans for society, plant and tend? How many vege gardens can they have? How many solar panels and wind turbines can they mount?

    Whose ideal is high-density apartment living?

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  48. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    Miramar peninsular was once deviod of these lovely birds. Not now. The possum eradication program had been an astounding success and there are now loads of Tuis. I’ve started planting trees to attract them. Useful link here.

    Getstaffed – in the Hutt we hear moreporks now as well. Very eiry at night during winter. They don’t half make a racket as they call to themselves. I love it.

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  49. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    In my street there are about 15 listed trees. Some huge Oaks, several Spanish cork oats, a whopping great Sequoia Pine (and I mean bloody huge – maybe the biggest tree in the Hutt Valley) and some Pohutakawas and other trees. I had a c40m Norfolk Pine on my place and chopped it down. It was damaging both my house and my neighbours. I didn’t need permission as it was not listed, although it was one of the tallest trees in the neighbourhood. I think if I lived in Auckland I would not have been able to.

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  50. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    More porks? Thought they were predominantly a wellington based critter.

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  51. WebWrat (516 comments) says:

    Certainly Washington.

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  52. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    If you want to understand why the proposed amendment is good law go to my Centre web page and read the Woolley Decision.

    Go to: http://www.rmastudies.org.nz/index.php/issues/39-rma-the-act-and-its-reforms/312-rma-and-the-protection-of-trees

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