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Category: Reports and Information

Great points from submissions so far

Great points from submissions so far

There are so many great viewpoints coming through from people who have talked to us directly or have sent their submissions through. While everyone has their own personal experiences, here is a selection of quotes / points made in feedback provided so far, which may resonate with you for your own submission:

These reserves are a vital part of our communities. They are beautiful green spaces where we enjoy playing with our children and families.

The reserves are a place for social engagement where interaction with neighbours, old and new is vital for our mental wellbeing.

We are lucky enough to have many native birds who live in the trees on the Forty Foot Lane reserve, the Council should be encouraging more planting of native trees and shrubs on the reserve instead of destroying them. 

The Council states that 9R Fortyfoot lane, our local park, is surplus to requirement, this comment is totally unjustified. This green space is a gift to the community and once sold will never be replaced.

Auckland Council cannot and should not be this shortsighted – selling off precious greenspace is not the answer.

These reserves are vital for the health, road safety and enjoyment of young families with children, grand children and pets, who cannot walk unsupervised along dangerous roads to distant parks or  play in busy parks such as Lloyd Elsmore,  where sporting activities make it too hazardous for very young children to run around freely.  

Obliterating these green areas will also destroy the pleasant rural atmosphere of Sunnyhills and Pakuranga, and turn it into a concrete jungle devoid of grass areas, shady trees for the elderly to sit under and areas for the very young to frolic safely without the danger of being hurt by sporting activities. 

No Greenspace means no trees or vegetation, no or little photosynthesis. Nothing to correct the CO2 and O2 generated by pollution and green house gases.

These reserves are a vital part of our communities. They are beautiful green spaces where we enjoy playing with our children and as a family.

The reserves are a place for social engagement where interaction with neighbours, old and new is vital for our mental wellbeing.

There is only a finite, and relatively small, amount of reserve land and the population will continue to increase far beyond that into the future, so it is not a sustainable long-term strategy, merely a short term, short sighted one.

Our Auckland – The health benefits of green spaces

Our Auckland – The health benefits of green spaces

There are some key points in Council’s own article shown below; it reminds that we need to create options to help get through the short term so we can move together to our shared long-term strategy. Council don’t appear to disagree with needing greenspace, but they need more money right now. A point so important right now is the need for more trees to help stem climate change – maybe we offer to help plant another 50 trees around the ForthFoot Lane Reserve boundary to help the Mayor’s One Million Trees programme goal?…

From the below article, “The research analysed the activities of 12,500 New Zealanders, including 2500 Aucklanders, and found they were less likely to be overweight or suffer from obesity if they lived close to a park.”

The health benefits of green spaces

Published: 1 May 2019

An increasing body of evidence suggests that a closer connection to nature is good for our heads, our hearts and our lungs. But as Auckland grows, our precious green spaces and trees are increasingly under threat. In the first part of a three-part series for OurAuckland, Elly Strang looks at the many benefits green spaces bring to the health of our people and our city.

Humans have long believed that being in or around nature has healing properties. But the idea was previously more intuitive than evidential – a warm glow rather than hard science. Now, with large-scale public-health problems such as obesity and depression being linked to a rise in technology, a disconnect from the outdoors and more time spent inside, researchers are showing renewed interest in the topic, and studies from around the world are finding that those who live close to green spaces enjoy positive impacts on both their physical and mental wellbeing.

The science behind green wellbeing

A new Danish study has found that when children grow up with green space around them, they have 55 per cent less risk of developing a range of mental-health problems later in life. Researchers from Aarhus University found that the more greenery a person is exposed to up to the age of 10, the lower the risk of 16 mental disorders, including anxiety and depression, even when controlling for factors such as socio-economics and urbanisation.

“Our findings affirm that integrating natural environments into urban planning is a promising approach to improve mental health and reduce the rising global burden of psychiatric disorders,” the study’s authors say.

Closer to home, a team led by University of Canterbury professor Simon Kingham has studied the effects of public and private green spaces on physical health. The research analysed the activities of 12,500 New Zealanders, including 2500 Aucklanders, and found they were less likely to be overweight or suffer from obesity if they lived close to a park.

“Globally, nearly every study I’ve read says the more green space you’ve got near where you live, the better your health is,” Kingham says. “Park creation and planting in existing public spaces may serve as low-cost disease prevention options.”

In its 10-year budget released last year, Auckland Council boosted funding for parks, open spaces and community facilities to $3.7 billion, with $1.4 billion set aside for acquiring and developing public open spaces and parks. This was ahead of infrastructure as the single biggest increase within the budget.

Improving equity of access to green space

Kingham says another finding of his team’s study was that people in lower socioeconomic areas tended to have less access to good-quality green spaces. “All green space is not the same.”

This is why Auckland Council’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy is vital to the health of the city. It aims to address the unequal distribution of trees across the region and increase the benefits of a green city for all.

Find out more about the Urban Ngahere Strategy

It also aims to undo some of the damage done by urbanisation, rising inequality and climate change. The plan is to increase Auckland’s average tree-canopy cover from 18 to 30 per cent, while targeting areas where cover is scarce, such as parts of south Auckland, so that all local board areas have at least 15 per cent cover.

Councillor Penny Hulse, chair of the council’s Environment and Community Committee, says Auckland’s rapid urban growth has swallowed up native bush and open spaces.

“It hasn’t always been the norm to replant trees in areas that have been developed since the 1980s,” she says. “With higher-density housing we’ve lost a lot of urban trees, as people haven’t always valued them as much as they should.”

Hulse says so-called “leafy suburbs” have fantastic tree cover, but the urban canopy is not evenly distributed across Auckland. In some neighbourhoods, streetscape planting – where trees are planted along the roadside – is also lacking.

“The amalgamation of Auckland’s former councils means we get to look across the whole region to see where those gaps are,” she says. “Among the lowest on the canopy cover statistics are places like Ōtara and Papatoetoe. We’d like to make them as leafy as the suburbs in Waitematā, not just because it’s beautiful, but because it’s better for communities.”

‘Knowing, growing and protecting’

The Urban Ngahere Strategy is underpinned by a three-pillar framework: knowing, growing and protecting. This involves tracking the size, health, condition and distribution of trees around Auckland and increasing the number to boost the benefits and address inequity, while also protecting existing trees.

Hulse says local boards are organising planting in areas that have been degraded, and Mayor Phil Goff’s Million Trees programme is a great example of a planting project making big strides. Under the scheme, 648,000 trees were planted around Auckland in the first two planting seasons, and the millionth tree is being planted in Tōtara Park on 14 June. Auckland Council collaborates with a range of groups on the plantings, from schools, to community groups, to prison inmates.

“We’re getting huge numbers of volunteers for planting,” Goff says. “They’re not as fast as the professionals we use, but they’re there and ready. It’s all about what you want to leave as a legacy. I went and planted 50 native trees, and I’m going to take my grandkids back there and show them the trees when they’re 30, 40, 50 metres high. People get a thrill out of that and know we’re undoing some of the damage done; they see it as a way they can make a difference.”

Hulse says planting more trees now is crucial to combat growing inequity as the climate gets warmer.

“Climate change is talked about as an inequity magnifier. In other words, the people most vulnerable to climate change are those at the challenging end of the social scale, and if you look at where the least tree cover is, it’s the vulnerable areas. Internationally, it’s been shown that communities who live in areas where there are lots of trees are able to adapt to warmth more easily, so let’s address those two things together.”

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Urban green spaces and health. A review of evidence.

Urban green spaces and health. A review of evidence.

Urban green spaces and health. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2016.

Key points from the document below, reinforce the positive effects of urban green space:

  • “…there are many public health benefits through diverse pathways, such as psychological relaxation and stress reduction, enhanced physical activity, and mitigation of exposure to air pollution, excessive heat, and noise…”
  • The evidence shows that urban green space has health benefits, particularly for economically deprived communities, children, pregnant women and senior citizens.
  • “…The available evidence suggests that there is also a need for small, local green spaces very close to where people live and spend their day, as well as large green spaces, offering formal provisions such as playing fields, and opportunities to experience contact with nature and relative solitude.”
  • “A city of well‐connected, attractive green spaces that offer safe opportunities for urban residents for active mobility and sports as well as for stress recovery, recreation and social contact, is likely to be more resilient to extreme environmental events…. Such a city is also likely to have healthier citizens, reducing demands on health services and contributing to a stronger economy.”
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Improving access to GREENSPACE – a report by Public Health England

Improving access to GREENSPACE – a report by Public Health England

Many, many good points in the paper below, presented by Public Health England, which reinforce why it’s so important to keep our green spaces – especially in the times of COVID-19; some key statements from the paper include:

“Evidence shows that living in a greener environment can promote and protect good health, and aid in recovery from illness and help with managing poor health.”

“Greener environments are also associated with better mental health and wellbeing outcomes including reduced levels of depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and enhanced quality of life for both children and adults.”

“‘Natural capital’ can help local authorities address local issues that they face, including improving health and wellbeing, managing health and social care costs, reducing health inequalities, improving social cohesion and taking positive action to address climate change.”

In contrast, the paper states “When local health priorities are not reflected within the Local Plan, it can be difficult to make the case for specific planning standards to be implemented to address health needs, or to defend planning decisions made on health grounds.”

“Despite this, it can be challenging to make a compelling case, and often greenspace is still seen as a liability rather than an asset.”

We MUST urge Council to prioritise our community’s local health!

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Encouraging words from our Minister of Conservation – Hon Kiritapu ‘Kiri’ Allan

Encouraging words from our Minister of Conservation – Hon Kiritapu ‘Kiri’ Allan

Mayor receives petition opposing reserves’ sale

– The Times 1 March 2021

A group of passionate local residents battling to stop the sale of four east Auckland public reserves have shared their message with Auckland’s mayor.

Auckland Council wants to dispose of green spaces it owns at 111R Golfland Drive, 9R Fortyfoot Lane, 76R Aberfeldy Avenue and 31 Aspiring Avenue/17R Hilltop Road.

The Howick Local Board voted late last year to retain the reserves but the council’s finance and performance committee overrode it and voted to put them up for sale.

The move is part of an effort by the council to raise money through its emergency budget.

A lengthy legal process, which involves final signoff by the Government, must be worked through before the reserves can be sold.

Among the people opposing their sale are Botany MP Christopher Luxon, Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown and Howick ward councillors Sharon Stewart and Paul Young.

A group of east Auckland residents are doing what they can to stop the reserves from being sold.

They circulated a petition signed by people from more than 450 local households calling for them to be kept in public hands.

Five of those residents recently wrote to Auckland mayor Phil Goff to highlight their concerns regarding the sale of the reserve in Golfland Drive.

Goff wrote back to them on February 22 saying revocation of the parks’ Reserves Act status is among the statutory processes that must be completed before they can be sold.

“The revocation requires public consultation, which is scheduled to commence in the near future and provide 30 days for the public to provide feedback,” Goff says.

In his letter Goff also acknowledged receipt of the residents’ petition, which was given to him by Howick ward councillors Stewart and Young.

“I have passed this petition to the staff responsible for the management of the public consultation process so that it can be considered as formal feedback, before a final decision is made.”

A spokesperson for Conservation Minister Kiri Allan told the Times there is “quite a process” to go through before any decisions on revoking the parks’ reserve status are made.

“In considering the revocation and disposal of reserves the council is required to follow procedures set out in Section 24 of the Reserves Act, including an initial consultation with the Department of Conservation (DoC).

“Following that, if the council wants to proceed that decision will then need to be publicly notified.

“The council would then send a copy of any objection to DoC, with a resolution from council in relation to those objections.

“The final decision on whether to revoke the reservation has been delegated to officers in the department by the minister.

“The minister may decide to withdraw that delegation, however in most cases it is DoC that will make that decision only after careful consideration has been given to the purpose of the reserves, the content of any objections and council’s views in relation to the objections.”

The spokesperson says DoC’s decision will be based on the council’s report of its assessment of those objections.