First they came for the trees …

February 16th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Browning blogs on trees:

I want you – the 87 percent of you who live in a city or town in New Zealand – to have a think about . What do mean to you?

Shade on a baking day like today; pretty light on your lawn in the mornings? Nesting and perching space for the morning chorus and their babies? Some light entertainment? – drunk tui, chattery fantail, those solemn kereru clowns? Your kids and kittens climbing, swinging; kids playing cricket underneath? Privacy from noisy or nosy neighbours; a shield from next door’s ugly house, or the road? Shelter from blustering winds? Ringing the changes from autumn, through winter, to spring?

I agree. Trees are great. That is so many of us like to have trees on our properties. And I love public areas with lots of trees.

All of that under threat, and you’re being misled about it: the government’s latest proposal to take an axe to urban trees is described in the explanatory note to the Resource Management Reform Bill 2012 as a “technical change”, to “clarify and improve the workability of the ”.

In the Bill (clause 12), the RMA would be changed so that a tree protection rule in a council plan can only apply to a particular tree, or a group (cluster, line or grove) of trees on the same or adjacent properties, listed in the plan.

If it proceeds, many fewer trees will be protected, because of the bureaucratic difficulty and cost of individually assessing and adding every tree to the plan, in a schedule.

Claire, like so many others, fails to mention the salient point.

There are no plans for anyone to axe urban trees in public places.  If anything, I am sure Councils will have more trees, not fewer trees.

The law change is about the rights of property owners to trim or cut trees THAT THEY OWN on THEIR LAND.

It can cost a property owner hundreds of dollars to get bureaucratic permission to trim their own trees. It’s ridiculous and in fact will discourage people from planting trees.

The law change still allows Council to protect individual trees that have significant heritage or conservation value. But what it will stop is Council bureaucrats declaring all trees of a certain type belong to them, rather than their owners, and the owners must pay large fees to the Council for the right to trim their own trees.

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40 Responses to “First they came for the trees …”

  1. swan (665 comments) says:

    When it was first announced about changes to tree protection laws, forest and bird shamelessly tried to have huge swathes of trees on the North Shore listed as groves protected trees. Including every single native tree on my suburban property (of which there are dozens). Fortunately they got shot down by the council. No, I do not intend to chop down a single native tree. Although there is a massive ugly pine I’m lining up…

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  2. bringbackdemocracy (425 comments) says:

    Yet more proof that the Green movement needs recycling.

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  3. Johnboy (16,077 comments) says:

    Next they will come for the grass! :)

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  4. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Trees are life. Whoever phrased the term ‘tree huggers’ to denigrate trees was an absolute caveman

    More trees not carbon taxes!

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  5. pq (728 comments) says:

    if you want to cut a tree down you get out your chainsaw, that is how you do things, if yopur neighbour look savage show him chainsaw, it always works for me

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  6. Redbaiter (8,551 comments) says:

    “First they came for the trees”

    What a joke that this brainwashed communist/statist completely misses the irony of her application of this phrase.

    This is a move to restore in a very small way some of the rights of private property owners that have been so eroded over they years by legislation championed by the likes of useful idiots such as Claire Browning.

    The phrase “First they came for..” is commonly used to identify the anti-freedom actions of those who belong to the same side of the political spectrum as Browning. The Nazis, the Fascists, the Communists, the Brownshirts, the Bluecaps, the Stasi, all of those who seek a huge and powerful state that holds its citizens in complete subjugation.

    Just another brainwashed communist schooled in a failed education system, misinformed by a politically corrupt mainstream media, and too black hole dense and ignorant of history to ever understand the evil she personifies.

    When people one day do “come for you”, they will be the same old statists in the same old uniforms and using the same old methods and they will be the same old ignorant thugs, and they will be led by the same old pitiful ignoramuses such as Claire Browning.

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  7. tas (623 comments) says:

    I was told that in a part of Germany there is a law protecting all trees whose trunks are over a certain diameter. The result is that any tree that is about to cross the threshold is cut down while it still can be.

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  8. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    The fact often forgotten is that places like Auckland got all their trees WITHOUT the need for tree protection laws. All those big beautiful treest were planted by people who wanted them well before there were any stupid laws protecting them.

    With these protection laws what will happen is that trees wont be planted and in 50 or 100 years time the place will look like a desert.

    There has never been shown any need for tree protection laws and as someone says above – such laws result in the place being clear felled before they get big or old enough.

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  9. Johnboy (16,077 comments) says:

    Much as I would be happy to have your babies (if I was a woman) Redbaiter. I would still want our offspring to play under the shade of the trees rather than a veranda! :)

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  10. Griff (7,517 comments) says:

    Ewwwww JB you tried to chat up weddy
    you will catch far right nuttiness

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  11. Nick K (1,231 comments) says:

    I hope Nick Smith isn’t in charge of this change because his last one was a complete nullity.

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  12. jonno1 (81 comments) says:

    barry is quite right, the existing tree rules have unintended consequences such as he and tas discuss. I have two beautiful pin oaks flanking my driveway which cost a lot to maintain (eg raising the canopy, selectively pruning to manage growth) but I would never wish to remove them. However, should they become diseased or their roots threaten my house that would override any other consideration.

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  13. Johnboy (16,077 comments) says:

    Capitalist bastard jonno1.

    You should have a broken letterbox on one side of your drive and the neighbours broken down Ford Falcoon on the other side.

    Rich prick! :)

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  14. Anthony (794 comments) says:

    I bought the section where our house now stands and then WCC passed some silly bylaw protecting all trees over a certain girth and height (not that big). There was a tree right where we wanted to build the house and given there is a bush reserve all along one boundary we are hardly lacking in trees. Luckily WCC got such a backlash they changed the bylaw to protecting designated trees and as soon as I heard that I got someone to come and chop down the offending tree.

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  15. Australis (101 comments) says:

    Where does Claire think all those trees came from? Could it be that most Auckland residents actually like trees and planted them by the thousand? Why would they go to all that trouble only to cut them down – simply because they can?

    Generations of Aucklanders have planted and nurtured trees on their properties, knowing that they can prune or contain them as they wish, and can even remove them in future if their plans change. But then they were told by a nanny Council that they would henceforth lose control of their own gardens if they planted trees. Planting a tree removes future decision-making to bureaucrats.

    Naturally, the rate of planting dropped right away.

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  16. trout (937 comments) says:

    Where do these people get off? Thousand of trees are purchased from garden centres every day in spring for planting on urban properties. I guess I have planted about 100 different varieties myself. But if they become a nuisance they go – I don’t want some busy body who gets off on regulating other people – telling me what trees I have to keep.

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  17. UrbanNeocolonialist (286 comments) says:

    Have a friend who is an Arborist in Auckland is making huge money at the moment as property owners take advantage of recent slackening of tree protection laws to remove trees – that were previously protected, and says that they are in many cases so scared that new regulations will come along that they are removing more trees than they really want to just to be safe.

    Urban Planners are an enormous economic and lifestyle drag on this country – probably worse than greens.

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  18. annie (539 comments) says:

    Dark night, drill, roundup.

    Or chainsaw in daylight and then pay the fine – an option a judge in Wellington took some years ago, according to the court report in the newspaper at the time. Very sensible. Norfolk pines in partiuclar are a problem – you watch it grow, think how nice it is, but it keeps on going at about a meter a year or so, and the lower branches start to drop with huge force, narrowly missing toddlers, cats and adults. This is about the time you think it needs to go, but the neighbours and the council meantime have declared it protected. Going to court to get permission to fell costs well over $10,000 if a recent Wellington case is any indication.

    Better to do it in on a dark night.

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  19. Johnboy (16,077 comments) says:

    “Dark night, drill, roundup. ”

    You have obviously never done it, other than in your imagination.

    It’s “Dark night, drill, Tordon. ” :)

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  20. Manolo (13,580 comments) says:

    The hack Claire Browning deserves to be flogged, tarred and feathered.

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  21. Johnboy (16,077 comments) says:

    You left out “stripped naked” before “flogged” Manolo! :)

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  22. Alan Wilkinson (1,871 comments) says:

    If this moron Browning wants to see a tree desert she need only look for Government housing areas. If she wants to see an urban forest she had better go anywhere there are owner-occupied dwellings.

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  23. Johnboy (16,077 comments) says:

    Quite right AW. Unless he went here of course: :)

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/8313694/Trees-brought-down-illegally

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  24. Reid (16,290 comments) says:

    What the hell is wrong with the lefty mindset that sometimes it just short-circuits once in awhile in some not all lefty people and they just have a silicon-chip blow-out inside of their head and get all gooey and compassionate about say, this time, trees and just completely lose so much grip on reality: i.e. the thing that will happen if or when you ever do what they suggest?

    Their compassionate frenzy seems to overpower all basic logical thought processes based on accepted reality. What’s that, they ask. All they care about is the overwhelming and serious and imminent plight about to befall the innocent [fill blank =] trees. Oh the humanity.

    It should be illegal. A judge should be able to sentence people like her to say, 30 days and nights on a small platform at the top of a really massive tree. If this was a decent democracy we’d be able to do that when they say things like this.

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  25. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    These loopy greenies actually believe we are all out here eyeing up the chainsaw like some love object, just dying to cut something down…in fact most people who move to the country are like me – they PLANT trees ( and shrubs and flaxes and ground cover and new grass) at the first opportunity…

    Excellent point about the German law (it would have to be German!) which protects all trees over a certain girth …. which results in all trees about the “cross the threshold” being felled…superb example of the law of unintended consequences…

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  26. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Trees: Nature giving us a reason to own chainsaws!

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  27. jocko (111 comments) says:

    Our local C

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  28. Steve (North Shore) (4,547 comments) says:

    Here you go Green Fuckwits:

    Ban Chainsaws

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  29. jocko (111 comments) says:

    Our local Wgtn Region Council would not allow urgent removal without a permit of a badly damaged old native tree which endangered house, children and visitors & without prior agreement of the local Iwi.
    We notified it was a significant hazard. No matter. However when we asked for the name of the Officer who was obstructing
    safety of life & limb PLUS the name of their Liability Insurer so that our own Insurer could be notified in order to take any Court Liability Action, if needed…..the permit to cut dwn the tree was provided within the day!!
    Our Insurer advised that should work every time!

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  30. Colville (2,261 comments) says:

    A few years back I looked at buying a block of land 4 Ha about half hour from Welly. I wanted to develope for medium density housing. (24 appartments with 3.5 Ha of jointly owned reserve, great sea views too) Problem was the only flat land had pohutukawas on it. Pohuts arent even native to Welly, they are all transplants. According to Council hey are “native” and therefore cant be cut down. After spending a decent wad of cash beating my head against Council wall I gave up.

    After a while I realised what a dumb fu*k I was.. Neighbour had a dozen BIG pines on his land I should have offered to fell them for free, shit even paid him. Resulting logging work would have destroyed all “problem” trees and I would have had a interesting job on my hands.

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  31. Enzo (44 comments) says:

    What about areas prone to slips? If a rogue landowner cuts trees down it could endanger property and lives of those who live down the hill. Does the proposed legislation exclude such areas? Sometimes bureaucracy exists for a reason.

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  32. jonno1 (81 comments) says:

    Johnboy @3.29pm – nah, the neighbour has a grunty 4WD to tow his boat, not a Falcoon station-wogon :). That’s the best kind of boat too, it means I don’t have to buy one and can use my boatshed as a man-cave. BTW it wasn’t me who down-voted you! Love your work.

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  33. kowtow (8,323 comments) says:

    What does she mean ,first they came for the trees?

    White, middle class, heterosexual males have already been “come for”.

    It’s just not acknowledged in the media as that particular minority no longer counts.

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  34. Left Right and Centre (2,971 comments) says:

    What do trees mean to me?

    Bird noise.

    When there’s lots of trees near you, there’s lots of birds. Not nice birds. Horrid sounding little birds. By the hundred.

    There’s all kinds of idiots out there, eh? Bloody heaps of them. Very scary. Zealot greenhards are just one breed.

    I’m reminded of a great word by Redbaiter. Ignoramus. Thanks Redster. I’ll add that to edification that I saw here. This is a learning environment to immerse myself in. Bathing in the pool of wisdom. Drinking from the cup of knowledge. Let me walk a mile in your shoes, see the world through your eyes, paint pictures with your palette….

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  35. AJC (16 comments) says:

    Couldnt agree more. We had a major hassle removing a tree on our place. It took us a whole year. The current government changed the law a couple of years ago to make it easier to remove private trees but some environment court judge watered it down. Net result is a new law needed to make it even clearer. Love trees but sometimes it doesnt work out.

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  36. mickysavage (786 comments) says:

    And out in Titirangi where the area is stability sensitive and your house’s stability depends on your neighbour not clear felling his trees from the bank that holds your section up the idea of some controls has a certain amount of merit.

    And why when you allow communities to decide on what their area will look like do you prevent them from having rules about trees?

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  37. northern (44 comments) says:

    Far from being too lenient, IMO the current RMA amendment remains far too heavily weighted in favour of council interference on private property. Right now Porirua City Council has a draft plan change which they claim would conform to the amended legislation (because all 1,175 affected private properties would be listed in the District Plan) yet it prohibits homeowners from doing anything at all to any of their own native tree, bush or plants without going through a bloody expensive bureaucratic process to get a resource consent from them. My wife won’t even be able to tend her fern garden across our back yard without a RC, let alone our having the right to trim old woody manuka for reasons of fire safety. The Govt really needs to clamp down far more on these extreme commie councils – they’re out of control!

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  38. Fletch (6,295 comments) says:

    There was a big stink in Pukekohe a few years back about the development of the main street though town. The main street used to have the most beautiful flowering cherry trees. The council decided to do an upgrade, so without telling anyone they went and cut them all down in the middle of the night. I think at the time that a Canadian film crew was supposed to be filming there too, because they said the tree-lined streets were similar to those in Canada and it was cheaper to film here. But they removal of the trees made it less desirable to film there.

    Here’s part of the story from the NZ Herald –

    Pukekohe residents are incensed about the destruction of the main-street trees, but the local district council says it gave a year’s warning. ALAN PERROTT reports.

    United States President George Washington chopped down his mother’s cherry tree and got away with it.

    The Franklin District Council is not quite so lucky. It has been lambasted since ordering Pukekohe’s trademark cherry trees to be destroyed under cover of darkness two weeks ago.

    The 15-year-old trees made way for an upgrade of the central shopping area.

    They will be replaced by evergreen natives.

    The blossom-laden cherry trees were once the pride of Pukekohe, brightening many a postcard.

    They could now become postcards themselves after being transformed into a large pile of mulch.

    Only one sad old tree remains and its days are numbered.

    The public backlash began swiftly as puzzled residents worked out what was different about their main street.

    Trees are the talk of the town and the local newspaper, the Franklin County News, has run pages of angry letters.

    MORE – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=148185

    This is what it used to look like – http://www.manukau-libraries.govt.nz/Footprints/FOOTPRINTS_03448.jpg

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  39. Lance (2,635 comments) says:

    Well good old Bob Harvey protected the Wiatakere ranges when it was already protected by law. All the land had progressively been bought up over time and was protected under a trust.
    So to protect the protected ranges he altered personal property rights of anyone anywhere near the ranges.
    And of course anyone that objected just wanted to “cut down the entire Waitakere ranges”, the same protected ranges that needed protecting.

    I could go on about the dishonest tactics proponents used to get this odious ruling past but you get the picture.

    Experience teaches me the left cannot be trusted with property rights.

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  40. ben (2,377 comments) says:

    This change is because the current law attempting to do the same thing was taken in a direction by the courts that was not intended by Parliament. Groups of trees was being interpreted to cover wide areas, possibly the entire city, for an order intended only to cover a small group. So, another law change is needed.

    The more fundamental issue is whether enough rules can be written to stop courts and councils who have decided development is wrong and to be stopped, now that their homes are secure.

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