Urban forestry offers benefits along Christchurch Lower Avon Corridor

19 October 2012

Post quake land-use change in Christchurch provides unmatched opportunities for utilising trees in the urban environment, according to scientists from Crown Research Institute Scion.

Science Leader Dr Peter Clinton says incorporating urban forests into the future plans for Eastern suburbs could provide significant benefits to the local community.

“The Residential Red Zone totalling around 400 hectares requires affordable interim management, while land quality is assessed and land use priorities are determined for permanent use,” he explains.

“It is particularly important to consider urban forestry options as demolition in Christchurch residential Red Zone is likely to cause the loss of tree amenity and ecosystem values and benefits.”

Clinton advocates that urban forestry provides one of the most simple and affordable landuse options for large-scale areas, while also providing land remediation by addressing contaminated sites and hazard management options.

“Planting some of the area in trees would create long-term amenity and recreational facilities desired by the community as well as adding value back into the region,” he says.

 “Imagine creating a small urban river park that can attract tourists and residents to Christchurch, establishing it as not only a ‘Garden city’ but the ‘City of trees’.”

Urban forestry opportunities will be discussed at the Science for Communities seminars held at the Wainoni Methodist Church this Saturday, 20 October 2012, as part of the inaugural Spring Festival.

Alan Leckie, Research Scientist for Scion will highlight the need to involve the community in projects that will help remediate and develop the area.

“Urban forestry provides the opportunity for communities that have been displaced and impacted by the land zone decisions to come together and create a positive long-term outcome for their community. Such an initiative would help revive the Eastern corridor, while providing economic benefits and health benefits for the region,” Leckie says.

Trees are a vital part of the city ecosystem, filtering stormwater, providing and protecting habitats, while also aiding air quality and reducing greenhouse gases. Trees can help save energy and water, increase property value and support public wellbeing.

Community interest in greener land management options is evident, as demonstrated by a petition calling for an Avon River Corridor. This movement includes strong backing for using established residential red zone gardens and trees to support such initiatives.

Several organisations and individuals , including Scion, the University of Canterbury, and Colin Meurk of Landcare Research, are supporting these initiatives along with the AvON Community Garden Subgroup, Garden City 2.0, Canterbury Community Garden Association and Dr Matt Morris of Sustainability House.