Law change sees ancient Auckland trees get the chop

New law changes are altering Auckland's skyline, with some residents claiming ancient trees are being felled because property owners no longer need consent.

Some residents say ancient trees are being felled because property owners no longer need consent to get rid of them. Source: 1 NEWS

As a Greenpeace activist Johno Smith has scaled Parliament and scrambled aboard an oil rig in the Pacific ocean but the arborist says that since the law change they are having to take out "quite magnificent trees that shouldn't really be coming out".

Amendments to the Resource Management Act mean most trees on urban properties are no longer protected.

Local board chairman Peter Haynes says the loss of an enormous century old pohutukawa in Sandringham is a travesty and was unnecessary.

Resident Catherine Flynn says it was a beautiful tree with a "beautiful big presence" and had tui and lots of bird life in it.

Other favourites to disappear include giant norfolk pines, a totara and a pin oak in Auckland's up-scale Remuera.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage says some property owners who had previously been denied consent cut down the trees when the rules were lifted.

Trees are what makes cities pleasant places to live. - Eugenie Sage

"Overseas cities like Canberra and Hamburg are increasing their tree cover...they are the city's lungs," Ms Sage said.

But Environment Minister Nick Smith says the Government has simply removed some red tape and local councils still have the power to designate protection for special trees.

The Government wants to introduce further RMA changes to ease Auckland's housing crisis but Johno Smith says a lot of developers just see the potential in properties to remove the trees and chuck on more houses.

"I know Auckland has got a crisis and we need to develop it but we shouldn't replace one crisis with a new environmental one," he says.