21 Sep 2023

Planting is now underway to increase Christchurch’s tree canopy.

Woolston’s Cutler Park is the first of six parks to have new trees planted as part of the Ōtautahi Christchurch Urban Forest Plan.

“Cutler Park is in an area of the city where we know the tree canopy cover is low and needs to be increased, so we’re starting here first,” Head of Parks Andrew Rutledge says.

The first tranche of detailed tree planting plans went out for public feedback in July, with five Community Boards approving a total of six plans between them.

“We wanted to make the most of this planting season, which finishes at the end of this month, so the team has pulled out all the stops to get some trees in the ground now.”

“We’re aiming for 40% canopy cover across our parks. In some parks this will be higher, in others it will be lower – it all depends on how the park is used and what space is available for planting,” Mr Rutledge says.

The approved tree planting plans have accounted for the trees at their mature size, and have been designed using a recession plane model to manage the impact of shading on neighbouring properties and sports fields.

“All of the plants we use, whether they are native or deciduous, are carefully selected for the area they’re being planted in. We’re using a mix of 40 to 60 per cent native plants as set out in the Urban Forest Plan, with a strong preference for natives along waterways,” Mr Rutledge says.

To help give the trees the best start, the team are using ‘tree coaches’ which are made from recycled plastic and provide support and protection.

“In selected tree pits we’re also installing underground water sensors to help us make sure the trees are getting the right amount of water they need to thrive,” Mr Rutledge says.

This is just the start of a huge programme of tree planting for the Council. With more than 1200 parks and reserves across Christchurch and Banks Peninsula and clear targets for increasing tree canopy cover over the next 50 years, up to 60 parks will be getting more trees each planting season.