Sadness as trees felled

Centuries fall . . . Workers remove branches from one of the Lawson cypresses felled last week on the grounds of the former Lumsden Presbyterian Church. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

‘‘I feel like crying every time I look at them’’ — that was the reaction in Lumsden as 14 trees a century old were de-limbed and topped during their felling fate last week.

The felling continued after protesters chained themselves to one of the Lawson cypresses on the grounds of the former Lumsden Presbyterian Church, in a last-ditch effort to prevent what they called a ‘‘massacre’’.

Locals and passers-by stopped to watch the Lawson cypresses come down.

Among those were Lumsden Tree Lovers group members, who stayed until its completion.

Spokeswoman Kim Spencer-McDonald said she ‘‘could cry’’ every time she looked at them.

‘‘It’s sickening to see. On Tuesday afternoon we watched two native falcons flitting around looking to land on the trees,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s not just sparrows making a stop in those trees — they are places for many other birds, too.’’

The group was concerned about the legitimacy of the felling, she said.

‘‘We’re just not 100% convinced a proper archaeological assessment was completed.

‘‘We’ve been told it has by police, but we just want to see a physical copy.’’

The group was now focusing their energy towards making sure trees in the Southland and Invercargill areas were ‘‘protected’’.

‘‘We’re not giving up on getting our councils to reinstate their heritage tree registers, which they abandoned over a decade ago.

‘‘We want to do whatever we can to prevent something like this from happening again.

‘‘It’s all about having the opportunity of a consultation process.’’

In July last year, a stay of execution was granted for the trees after the contractor booked in to remove the trees found out there was opposition to the trees being removed and withdrew his services.