A future focused plan outlining how we can grow our city’s urban forest has been released for public feedback.

The Ōtautahi-Christchurch Draft Urban Forest Plan 2023 sets out how we will grow our tree canopy and sustain a thriving urban forest of healthy, diverse and resilient trees. An urban forest is a term used to refer to all trees within an urban environment, located on both public and private land.

Head of Parks Andrew Rutledge said the plan sets the direction and priority for our city’s trees for now and the future. 

“The Ōtautahi Christchurch Draft Urban Forest Plan 2023 has clear goals to help increase our urban forest. These include planting new trees, nurturing and protecting the ones we have and working with our community to preserve and grow our urban forest.”

The plan focuses on increasing Christchurch’s tree canopy cover, which latest survey results show had reduced from 15% to 13% between  2015-2019. Mr Rutledge said the plan outlined several actions to help grow our urban forest, which would be funded through the council’s annual and long-term planning processes.

“Our current urban forest is not spread across our communities equally, with some suburbs having more trees than others. We want to prioritise neighbourhoods which are lacking trees to ensure equitable tree coverage for all communities.”

“We want to grow our urban forest as quickly and sustainably as possible. Currently we plant approximately 400 trees in our parks per year of which 50% are new and 50% are replacing trees we have removed.  This coming planting season we’ll be planting about 2500 additional trees. . This number will steadily increase over coming years towards a goal of 8000 trees per year. As part of this we’ll be looking at how we can balance the needs of our community, when using our parks, with prioritising growing our urban forest.  

Actions to protect trees on private land have also been identified in the plan.

“There is currently limited mechanisms to protect trees on private land. Growing and nurturing our urban forest will require continued support from a mix of sources, including developers, property and business owners. As a Council we’ll also be investigating ways we can incentivise and support private land owners to retain and plant more trees”.

Mr Rutledge encourages anyone with an interest in trees to provide feedback on the plan.

“While we have had a lot of conversations with our community in developing this plan we want to know if there’s anything you think we’ve missed. We want to hear people’s thoughts on the plan so we’re asking for feedback through our Have Your Say webpage. Feedback closes on Monday 6 March 2023.

Read the Ōtautahi-Christchurch Draft Urban Forest Plan 2023.