122-year-old Carterton oak on the chopping block

9:22 am on 28 February 2024
The old oak tree in Carterton will either be pruned or removed. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

The old oak tree which will either be pruned or removed. Photo: LDR / Emily Ireland

The fate of a 122-year-old oak tree is in the hands of Carterton councillors after being deemed to be "compromised".

Councillors, who meet on Wednesday, will decide if the oak will be pruned or removed, the latter being the option recommended by arborists.

The compromised oak is one of 34 trees remaining from an Arbour Day planting event in 1904.

At the event, about 300 trees were planted at Carrington Park by school children, the mayor, councillors, and volunteers.

The remaining 34 trees have local historical value, but 25 have a history of canopy loss from overextended limbs.

A report to Carterton District Council said this history of issue suggests that "limb failure is likely in the foreseeable future".

The oak tree being discussed at Wednesday's meeting is located between the skate park and bike track.

It has been described by two professional arborists as having structural integrity issues which have compromised its form, health, and potential longevity.

The current value of the tree is $68,932 and it is among some of the oldest oak trees in Wairarapa.

"With the tree situated where it is, and the new hazards now identified, the view of the arborists is that the removal of the English Oak tree would be the best option due to safety reasons," the council report said.

"This is likely to be an ongoing challenge with the remaining oak trees in Carrington Park.

"The English Oaks have grown rapidly in New Zealand's more temperate climate. At 122 years old, they are some of the oldest oak trees in Wairarapa.

"We are now discovering the fast growth suggests the trees are more prone to heavy limb failure. We should anticipate these symptoms may also appear in other Carrington Park Oaks."

The Skate Park Group is currently doing design work for the development of a new skate park and have requested the council consider removing the tree.

Councillors will consider two options: prune the tree or remove the tree.

If the tree is pruned, at least 35 percent of the upper canopy will be removed.

It does not guarantee the future survival of the tree and "ultimately could result in the health of the tree continuing to decrease, with further structural maintenance required."

If the tree is removed, the wood will be reutilised - sold or donated to local organisations for re-use in manufacturing or repairing timber furniture and products.

Seedlings from this particular tree are already being grown and will be planted at a more suitable location once at an appropriate size, the council report says.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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