Before The Cranes And Helicopters…

Many living in the Auckland region will be aware of the work being carried out on Mount Wellington recently. It is a significant project of high profile, already picked up by national news channels and in the general media. What many may not realise, is that before the helicopters, cranes and excavators moved in, a whole lot of pre-removal work was completed, to ensure the site was protected and respected.

Here are extracts from an interview with Matthew Priestley, who lead the consultancy work for Auckland Council for the restoration of Mount Wellington.

About the site:

Auckland’s volcanic cones or maunga (mountains) are a prominent feature of the city’s landscape and form an important part of its history and identity. Their historical use by Maori as Pa sites means they, collectively and individually, are of both cultural and archaeological significance.

The care and maintenance of volcanic cones, including the tree and other green assets, is the responsibility of Te Puna Maunga Authority / Auckland Council. They have initiated a project to restore 14 cones to their historical, cultural and natural state. Ti Hi summit is the first of potentially 14 volcanic cones which the Council aims to restore to their “natural” pre-colonial state.

Mt Wellington had major stand of 300-400 pine trees which needed to be removed and replanted – necessary for slope stabilisation and mitigation. The contractor successful in bidding for this work needed to ensure that impacts on the old quarry site such as erosion and scoria slipping, were minimised.

The Councils focus is to:

Return Mauanga (mountains) to their original natural state by removing exotic or otherwise contextually inappropriate species and replacing these with native and/or appropriate species
Establish clear sightline from summit for full enjoyment of the view by visitors

Ensure tree and vegetation does not present critical risk to people and property and the culturally and/or archaeologically significant features of the mountain

The Treescape consultancy team first created an overarching Site Operations Management Plan with strict monitoring and quality control requirements. The team also provided detailed methodology statements and supporting SOP’s for a suite of tree removal methodologies appropriate to the access, geological and architectural features of the mountain. An area / asset type specific operations plan was also produced, which identified the methodologies to be utilised based on specific constraints, such as cultural, archaeological, topography, geology, and historical use factors.

Some of the unique and complex challenges that came up for the consultancy and land clearing teams, included the sites archaeological and cultural significance.  This meant that they needed to identify and develop methods that didn’t compromise these but still met requirements of arboriculture.

Not only was the site an old quarry, but it is also the home to an endangered anagram (native fern) habitat which required minimum ground disturbance. The teams were also on a tight time frame, as the project had to be completed by the end of the planting season (September) meaning removal completed by the end of April.

Treescape are looking forward to continuing to work with Auckland Council on the next six cones earmarked for restoration.

Content supplied by Richard Forward, Client Solutions Manager