This week is going to be an amazing week for many reasons, but my most favourite reason is the epic showing of Beauty and the Beast at the War Memorial Theatre this week. I have seen some of the costumes and talked to some of the performers and I can assure you that the show will be amazing! I urge everyone to go out and get a ticket. I hope to see you there.

My second most favourite thing that is on this week is our council committee meetings.

I’ve picked two quite straightforward yet very detailed papers to talk about this time around.

The state of trees and gardens says a lot about a city when you visit. A lot of thinking and planning needs to go into our gardens and treescape in order to make a good impression for visitors and for our own city pride.

For these reasons in Community Development we will be discussing the Street Trees and Garden Plan. This plan is predominantly focussed on Trees and their place in the wider garden-scape. The gardens have their own specific plan that guides garden planting, maintenance etc. They both work in association with each other under overarching key themes regarding aesthetic, community engagement and summer water scarcity to name a few. This plan is fully intended to go out for community consultation.

A sensible council would want to try to make sure we’re getting rid of the right trees for the right reasons. They’re hazardous trees, nuisance trees, trees that are dead or dying etc. We would also want sensible replacement and planting of trees, effective measures to combat myrtle rust and sensible management of rural trees. This plan is our attempt to do that. I think it has merit but there are many tree experts in our community and I’d love to hear your feedback to this plan. We all benefit as a community when knowledge is shared.

In Environmental Planning and Regulations we have a really interesting information paper on biodiversity. Biodiversity in Gisborne is terrible. We have lost 85% of our original forests since colonisation, 98% of our wetlands, and more than half of all native bird species in our region are nationally threatened.

There have been increases in erosion and flooding, sediment movement in waterways and the marine area, decline in soil health, pollination reduction, and decreases in water quality due to increased nutrient run-off. Pests destroy the understorey and prevent new growth by eating fruit and seeds from the forest floor.

It’s pretty dire out there.

Solutions are many and varied and I’d like to focus on three key central government pieces; the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity, the Department of Conservation Draft Threatened Species Strategy and Predator Free 2050.

These will not only help us go someway in reversing this decline from a strategic point of view but being central government initiatives will mean that there should be substantial resource attached for us to deliver on protecting and revitalising our biodiversity. Well, one hopes right?

The salient points in these pieces are that invasive mammalian pests and habitat loss are our major threats to biodiversity, community and private sector involvement has been key and we must grow these relationships, and the work moving forward in biodiversity management will require GDC to play a significant part.

All quite straight forward, but nevertheless a massive undertaking.

Like I do in every column, I invite you to come along. I hope to see you there, after all they are your meetings too.

Have a great week, Gisborne.

As always, humbled to serve you Tairāwhiti.