Campaign to save to save 130-year-old trees

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Support for trees. . . Northern Southland residents Chris Hen derson, Eden Hutchison and Kim Spencer-McDonald prepare ribbon to tie around 14 Lawson Cy press trees that have been earmarked for cutting down at the Lumsden Presbyter ian Church. The group want to see the trees which are about 130 years old remain and hope the ribbon will help raise aware ness of the situation. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Northern Southland residents have mounted a campaign to save trees estimated to be about 130-years-old.

Fourteen Lawson cypress on the grounds of Lumsden Presbyterian Church will be cut down to make way for the present building, which has been sold, to be shifted off the site.

A new facility is to be built in its place.

The trees were planted in about 1892 when the church was built.

Lumsden resident Chris Henderson and Kim Spencer-McDonald of Dipton are part of a group who want the trees left.

The “magnificent” trees were an important feature of the town and part of its history, Mrs Henderson said.

“The people who planted them wanted them to last, like their church, for a long time.”

It did not matter if the trees were not native to New Zealand, she said.

“Trees are trees are trees.

“Trees are our lives, really. They are part of the ecosystem.”

The trees were one of the few places in town where the “dawn chorus” of birds could be heard, she said.

If the trees were cut down the timber was useless, Mrs Spencer-McDonald said.

The weight of the trees would cause them to split when they fell “so literally they will become firewood”.

A petition asking church members not to cut down the trees has attracted more than 350 signatures so far.

The group has also tied yellow ribbons around the trees to draw attention to the situation.

Lumsden Balfour Kingston Presbyterian Church minister Mike Kirkby-Sing said the decision to remove the trees had not been an easy one.

Session, the church’s governing group, had asked an arborist if it was possible to keep some of the trees.

“Professional arborist advice is that the removal of only some of the trees would destabilise the roots of those left, increasing the probability of trees failing or needing to be dismantled at a later date.”

It was considered “too great a risk” to public safety not to remove all of the trees.

Some of the trees were close to power lines nearby and needed trimming.

“The costs involved in meeting this ongoing maintenance would take parish funds from our much-needed community outreach.

“So, as much as we do appreciate trees, we must put people first.”

While there would be some members of the community who would be sad to see the trees go, those whose homes were affected by shade would not be, he said.

Session recognised this was a big change for church members and the community.

“There is loss in moving forward but there is also new growth.”