Rise in tree vandalism causing a concern

Mar 6, 2018

Queenstown Lakes District Council is concerned at an apparent rise in deliberate acts of vandalism on prominent trees across the district.

In the most recent event last week, a number of birch trees along Marine Parade in Queenstown were deliberately vandalised. These birch trees were planted as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of World War One.

On two of the trees, the vandalism appears to consist of the hacking of the bark with a large knife or small axe. Another tree has had a face crudely carved deeply into the bark.

QLDC Arboricultural Officer, Tim Errington said any damage like this can seriously harm trees.

“Anything that penetrates through the bark layer to the wood below has the potential to stunt or even kill these trees. This severs the vessels that transport sugars produced by the leaves to the rest of the tree, and by disrupting this crucial transport system it reduces the trees’ vigour and vitality.”

“In addition, these open wounds are now an entry point for organisms such as decay fungi, viruses and wood digesting insects to get into the trees, potentially causing further harm.”

In a separate, but equally concerning set of incidents, a row of recently planted Lombardy poplar trees in Queenstown’s St Omer Park are being regularly and deliberately trimmed by persons unknown, apparently in order to prevent them from growing above a few metres. Not only is this illegal, but it is likely to permanently damage the tree.

Mr Errington is urging the public to treat all trees in the district’s reserves with respect.

“A number of the trees in our region are much older than anyone alive in the district today, and it would be an absolute tragedy to lose them because of an irresponsible act. If you need to carve a face or your initials into a piece of wood, please find something that isn’t alive.”

“For those who see fit to take it upon themselves to prune and dismember community-owned trees, please just get in touch with us to see if we can come to a solution before taking the matter into your own hands. We’d prefer to work it out rather than see the tree dead through improper arboricultural work.”

If anyone witnesses vandalism or would like to report damage to trees on Council reserves please contact QLDC on 03 441 0499 or by emailing services@qldc.govt.nz.