Group working on strategies to save trees

Original planting . . .The Lawson Cypress trees which are planted at the Lumsden Presbyterian Church. PHOTO: MICHAEL CURREEN

A group protesting the felling of several Lumsden trees is working on longer-term strategies to save them.

Last month the ‘‘Lumsden Tree Lovers’’ prevented the felling of a stand of 120-year-old Lawson cypresses adjoining the Lumsden Presbyterian Church, after their protests deterred the contractor hired by the church from proceeding.

Group spokeswoman Kim Spencer-McDonald, of Dipton, told the Otago Daily Times work was proceeding ‘‘behind the scenes’’ to bring about a long-term solution to the disagreement.

‘‘We’re taking a two-pronged approach.

‘‘Through the Southland District Council we hope to get a change to the district plan that could help protect the trees.

‘‘And we’re also looking at seeking funding to potentially buy the church, which isfor sale, and turning it into some sort of creative arts and culture space for the district.

‘‘Our goal would be the trees would then come under the protection of the new owners.’’

She said it was ‘‘early days’’ for the possible project, but the church appeared open to dialogue.

‘‘The trees are still there, and representatives are talking, which is great.’’

A spokesman for the church elders said the church would continue to move forward with its plans to build a new space for worship.

At this stage, the project would still require the removal of the trees.

‘‘For over four years we have reflected on how we can continue to fulfil our mission in our community which includes providing a warm, hospitable, accessible, building.

‘‘After further consideration we have decided to continue progressing plans for our new church, as this remains the best option for both our congregation and the community.’’

The spokesman said line provider PowerNet had recently confirmed the trees required attention.

‘‘Regrettably, trees will be removed from our site by the end of the year.

‘‘We understand that some in the community will be sad to see the trees go.

‘‘We can assure you that this decision has not been easy and that other options have been investigated and found unviable.’’