In a small gully in South Auckland is a botanical gem, a real taonga, a fragment of the lowland podocarp-broadleaf forest that once covered the Manukau lowlands. This fragment is called Graham’s Bush and has been owned and cared for by the late Graham Cheesman and his family for the last 17 years.
Thanks to Graham’s diligent stewardship the bush is weed and pest free. It has King Ferns, mature Taraire, Kaihikatea, Puriri and Kauri. Some of these trees are at least 400 years old. The really special thing about Graham’s Bush is that it contains all the ecological stages up to maturity. It is not a regenerating bush, it is mature bush. This is extremely rare and there is only 2% of the podocarp-broadleaf forest habitat remaining, so it is a regionally and nationally threatened habitat.
The ecological integrity of Graham’s Bush was threatened by Auckland Transport’s proposed Redoubt Road – Mill Road Upgrade and The Tree Council appealed the decision to approve the Notice of Requirement for the road which would see a new 4 lane highway built right through it. The Tree Council was joined in the appeal by a number of s274 parties which included Forest and Bird and the Redoubt Ridge Environment Group.
After mediation with Auckland Transport, The Tree Council has secured a considerable extension to the proposed bridge crossing the gully from 28 to 40m span. This means that the abutments supporting the road bed will now be located at the edges of the gully rather than within it and only a very small number of mature trees will be directly affected.
In addition, significant sized areas surrounding Graham’s Bush on adjacent properties will now be subject to weed and pest control and enrichment planting to enhance the area of bush cover. These will be protected in perpetuity and an adjacent gully on a neighbour’s land will also be zoned a Significant Ecological Area under the first plan change of the new Unitary Plan.
The additional cost to the project of the improvements agreed by the parties is in excess of $4.5 million.
The Tree Council’s Chair Sean Freeman is pleased at the outcome. “While we weren’t able to negotiate moving the road completely out of the bush we believe that the improvements we have secured will ensure that the integrity of this important ecological fragment and its wildlife will be maintained.”
“The Tree Council would like to thank all those who donated money to support our case, our fellow appeal parties, the Cheesman family and Auckland Transport for being willing to negotiate a much better ecological outcome for Graham’s Bush”.
Graham’s Bush provides part of an important link for birds moving between the Gulf Islands, the Hunua Ranges and the Waitakere Ranges. It is located close to other important bush fragments such as Murphy’s Bush and Olive Davies Reserve and provides a vital habitat for birds and fauna.
Sean Freeman, Chair The Tree Council Ph 021 0837 1202