Conservationists in Northland say the Whangārei District Council needs to get real about climate change after a hectare of native forest was felled to make way for a subdivision.
Developers have this week cut down dozens of mature trees on Three Mile Bush road, including karaka, taraire, puriri and totara.
Northland Environmental Protection Society chairperson Fiona Furrell said some of the trees were hundreds of years old.
She said the Whangārei council had just declared a climate emergency but there was nothing in its District Plan to protect native forest.
The council needed to put its planning where its mouth was and protect the district's ancient trees, she said.
Meanwhile, the council said it was a constant balancing act to provide for the environment and the need for housing.
It said a developer who felled a large grove of native trees on the city outskirts was within his rights.
The land in question was rezoned as Living One a couple of years ago and that allowed for the removal of vegetation.
Council spokesperson Ann Midson said the developer was planning a housing subdivision on the site in Kamo.
Trees on residential land were not protected in the District Plan, she said.