ECan and Regenerate Christchurch should seriously investigate how a red zone forest could help to solve Christchurch’s winter air pollution problem, says community group Greening the Red Zone.
With a study recently finding that 5% of strokes in New Zealand are caused by smog, Greening the Red Zone co-chair Ashley Campbell says it is time to look seriously at how a large native forest can be part of the solution.
“Government-set standards say Christchurch can have no more than three high-pollution days in the year starting September 2016,” Ms Campbell says. “By 2020, we can have no more than one.
“We have already had three high air pollution days this winter.
“If we’re going to meet those standards, we must look at every possibility for improving our air-quality, while also improving people’s lives,” she says.
“Local and international research suggests very strongly that an evergreen native forest in the red zone could play a real part in helping us to meet those standards.”
A 2008 study of winter air pollution found that the air inside Riccarton Bush was significantly cleaner than outside, thought to be a result of the bush taking pollution out of the air.
It concluded: “This provides evidence for the mitigation potential of New Zealand evergreen species that could be used by urban planners to help improve air quality in key areas.”
And in its report Our Forest Future, Pure Advantage has this year valued the existing benefits of trees removing pollution at $19.2 million a year for Christchurch.
Ms Campbell says international research makes the case for a red zone forest even stronger, showing that bigger forests and evergreens are best at removing air pollution.
“While it’s removing air pollution, a red zone forest will also provide many other benefits to Christchurch, including flood protection, improved physical and mental health, stormwater cleansing, and increased biodiversity,” says Ms Campbell. “All these issues need serious investigation if we are going to make the best decision for all of Christchurch.”
You can read more about how a red zone forest would help to clean up our air on Greening the Red Zone’s website.