Dr Mels Barton on Trees, the RMA and loss of Democracy

Interviewed by

Lisa Er

Dr Mels Barton on Trees, the RMA and loss of Democracy

With Lisa Er. Trees have a unique place in our environment. Without them, human life as we know it would not exist.

Trees conserve water, make our air breathable, absorb air pollution, support our slopes, provide habitats for birds and animals and form the hub of enormous underground micro-environments that strengthen soil and foster insect life. Mature trees can even treat 16 cubic metres of storm water per tree per year.

So why does the government want to delete tree protection from the RMA (Resource Management Act) and prevent local councils from deciding with their communities whether or not to protect their own trees, and create “Nanny State” control from Wellington?

Trees that do not have formal heritage status and scheduled in a District Plan will now be vulnerable to changes to the RMA which will allow the fellow next door to cut down all the trees on his property without consent.

It seems the new changes to the RMA will smooth the path of economic growth at the expense of our environment. Where is local democracy when lobbying from the Property Council wins out over democratic processes?

Beginning with the trees Dr Mels Barton moves on to speak on urban planning, Auckland's sprawl and the Unitary (30 year) Plan. She expresses her concerns about the mixed housing zones that could become a sea of concrete with no soil, grass or trees to absorb storm water, and how Auckland’s aging storm water system will not cope with the additional housing required for the one million extra people anticipated in Auckland.

She speaks very clearly on housing, and the social cost of poverty on society.

Dr Mels Barton emigrated to NZ in 1999 and ran her own environmental consultancy for a number of years with her late partner. Mels was a member of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society executive for ten years until 2011. Since 2010, she has been the Auckland and National Coordinator for the week-long annual event Seaweek. She is also a trustee for the Weedfree and EcoMatters Environmental Trusts and was elected to the Tree Council Board in 2011. She is the Secretary of the Friends of Regional Parks and Chair of the Titirangi Ratepayers and Residents Association. She works for the Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford as his Issues Assistant and runs her own community newspaper for Glen Eden called The Guardian.

This interview is sponsored by The Awareness Party:

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Lisa Er

Lisa Er

Born in the UK Lisa emigrated with her parents to New Zealand at the age of 16. Already politically active Lisa has continued to have a passionate interest in peace, politics, and the philosophy behind what we do.

A primary school teacher for 14 years, Lisa then turned her hand to business and created the well known Lisa's Hummus, which she sold a few years ago. Now Lisa is immersed in creating a better political system via www.theawarenessparty.com