26 Nov 2011

Warnings of confusion under new tree protection regime

10:06 am on 26 November 2011

New rules to protect trees in Auckland take effect soon and the council is worried that property owners might not understand how strict they are.

A law change two years ago intended to remove restrictions from any tree not specifically protected.

The change comes into effect from the start of next year.

However a court ruling, sought mainly by Auckland local bodies, retains many controls on felling or pruning trees depending on their type, size or location.

About 1800 listed trees have special protection but Auckland Council spokesperson Warren Maclennan says rules still apply to many others.

"Large areas of urban Auckland will still be protected from 1 January so the concern of the council is to ensure that people know that and they check with the council before they start cutting trees down," says Mr Maclennan.

The Tree Council says the new rules are confusing and could result in a number of fines being issued if they are not made clearer.

Field manager Hueline Massey says many people could take advantage of the confusion and fell trees that are protected.

She says people could also innocently remove trees that are protected and be prosecuted.

Hueline Massey says it is disappointing Auckland Council thinks it is too hard to tell the public which areas have protected trees, in a way they can understand.

Auckland Council says the maximum penalty for chopping down a protected tree is $200,000.