Returning the Avon River Red Zone to a large native forest park will improve health, wealth and wellbeing – and is an opportunity Christchurch can’t afford to miss.
That’s what the Christchurch City Council heard today from community group Greening the Red Zone, in its submission on the long-term plan.
In its written submission, Greening the Red Zone showed how, as well as returning many native plants and animals to Christchurch, a native forest park would:
· Protect eastern suburbs from flooding
· Store carbon
· Save $50.3 million a year in health costs
· Help solve Christchurch’s winter air pollution.
Presenting its oral submission, Greening the Red Zone chair Ashley Campbell said the group wasn’t asking the council for money, because “like you, we don’t know what the future ownership of the land we care about will be”.
But, she said “we ask that everywhere that you touch the red zone, you do so in a way that makes the best outcome for Christchurch possible – or at the very least, does not hinder it”.
Landscape architect and Greening the Red Zone member Mark Huxtable revealed the group’s master plan, showing what would grow in different parts of the red zone – and how people could enjoy it.
“Working with our ecologists, we have come up with what we think is a pretty accurate map. It has both forest and wetland habitats, including bringing back the noble forest trees such as totara, matai and kahikatea.” And it could help to educate children and visitors about nature.
“People will be able to experience the forest through existing road routes, which we could designate for pedestrian and cycle use. A visitor centre close to the city centre could service the majority of activities in the park. And community parks on the fringes of the forest … would provide opportunities for picnics, natural play, and places to relax and unwind.”
He also said how the park would help regenerate nearby urban areas, improve water quality and be a place for sensitive recreation.
Ms Campbell asked the council to consider the benefits a native forest and wetland park would bring to all of Christchurch.
“What about … a Bexley wetland that gives the people of New Brighton confidence that they will not flood at every high tide, because the water has a natural, sustainable, place to go?
“What about the ability to jog through a forest, in the middle of winter, breathing clean air, rather than choking on smog? While listening to the songs of tui, kaka, bellbirds, kakariki – and more?
“It’s working WITH nature, not against it, to create the best environment for our city and our people.
“These are just some of the opportunities Avon-Otakaro Forest Park offers us.
“We won’t be offered them again.
“Help us to make the most of them.”
You can download the full Greening the Red Zone written submission the link below
Submission to the Christchurch City Council on the proposed Long Term Plan On behalf of the Greening the Red Zone
An impression of Avonside-Dallington in 100 years