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No lives left: The Brecon St eucalyptus trees are being removed from today

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

Today’s D-day for five eucalyptus trees on Queenstown’s Brecon Street.

In a statement yesterday, Queenstown council’s property and infrastructure boss Peter Hansby says an ecological assessment showed there weren’t any nesting birds in the trees, three of which are on council road reserve and two on private land, which clears the way
for chainsaws.

Their felling started this morning to make way for a four-metre-wide shared path.

But Hansby says there’ll be another 47 trees planted along that street, which will eventually become a ‘‘significant pedestrian boulevard’’, linking the town centre with  tourism attractions, accommodation and the Lakeview development.

At Lakeview, one third of the existing trees will be retained, and more than 200 natives will be planted.

More trees are destined for the chop on Hotops Rise, to make way for another active travel path connecting the Frankton Track to the town centre, but Hansby says more trees, ‘‘predominantly native’’, will be planted than removed, which will also improve Queenstown Gardens’ tree canopy.

In all, Hansby says there are plans to plant 500 new trees over the next four years as part of the town centre street upgrades project, consulted on through the Queenstown Town Centre Masterplan, approved by City Hall in 2017.

‘‘This work will involve the removal of trees across a number of different sites, but council’s intention is to retain trees that are protected or well positioned.’’

Council will also consider ‘‘lifting and shifting’’ established trees to alternative locations where feasible, he says, but maintains there was no other viable option for the Brecon St trees.

‘‘The location of these particular eucalypts, part way up a steep bank, made it impossible to build the necessary footpaths without weakening the root structure of the trees to a point where they become dangerous.’’

Queenstown’s mayor Jim Boult says he’s proud the resort was recognised last year as one of New Zealand’s three ‘Tree Cities of the World’, in part because of the district’s  commitment to ‘‘effective urban forest management’’ and volunteers’ work.

The council recognises its responsibility to kaitiakitanga, however, ‘‘development and redevelopment means that sometimes individual trees do need to be removed’’.

‘‘We appreciate the passion our community has for the natural environment, and council is committed to ensuring that our urban spaces remain green spaces too,’’ Boult says.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz