How Avon-Otakaro Forest Park meets community needs
Regenerate Christchurch has identified eight community needs for the future of the red zone. Returning the red zone to nature meets seven out of those eight needs. Here's how.
Safety of communities living in & around or visiting the red zone
- A forest and wetland park will absorb flood and stormwater, protecting neighbouring suburbs.
- Dark-sky friendly lighting will reduce glare and improve night vision; motion-sensor lighting along pathways will make everyone visible.
- A dense forest canopy will absorb wintertime air pollution, keeping our lungs safe.
- By not building on flood and liquefaction-prone land we protect future generations from the heartache we have endured.
- Emerging research suggests green spaces reduce crime in neighbouring areas.
Protection & enhancement of unique landscapes & indigenous wildlife & plants
- Tui are common throughout New Zealand. They are largely absent in Christchurch because there is no habitat for them. We can change that.
- By devoting 80% of the Otakaro/Avon River corridor to indigenous forest, bush, and wetland, we can provide enough habitat to get many of our native birds back in the city.
- Waitakiri Ecosanctuary, a key complementary proposal for Avon-Otakaro Forest Park, will protect and nuture vulnerable wildlife, some of which can then spread throughout the city through the halo effect.
- Christchurch is home to regionally and nationally endangered species, including Australasian bitterns. By providing increased habitat, we protect them.
- Wetlands are one of the most effective methods of filtering stormwater and cleaning rivers. Returning wetlands will help to clean the Otakaro/Avon River, and create a healthier environment for native fish and eels.
- Christchurch West Melton has lost more than 98% of its naturally occurring wetlands. Returning the red zone's natural wetlands will help to redress this.
- Riccarton Bush is the only significant stand of native floodplain forest left in Christchurch, and its number of plant species has fallen by 30% in the past 150 years. We need a sustainable area of native floodplain forest within the city.
- Natural regeneration was already happening in Christchurch before the earthquakes. Returning the red zone to nature works with what the environment was already doing.
- New Zealand is recognised as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, where endemic species are suffering from exceptional habitat loss. Here's a chance for Christchurch to reverse that.
Attractive & well-designed urban environment
- In several New Zealand cities, the presence of bush and wildlife is highlighted in real estate ads as a feature that attracts higher prices.
- The ecological benefits trees provide in cities are now well-recognised, from reducing noise and absorbing carbon, to improving air quality, reducing stress, depression and anxiety, and improving activity levels.
- Just 10 more trees in a city block decreases the level of some health conditions in the same way having a $10,000 higher income or being seven years younger does. Returning the red zone to nature will have a huge benefit in terms of health and perception of wellbeing for the residents of the East.
Transport system meets the needs of community in, around, or visiting the area
- The Eastern Cycle & Walkway Network, which is a key complementary proposal for Avon-Otakaro Forest Park provides attractive, active commuting and recreation options for residents of the East.
- A forest and wetland park can work with and around existing infrastructure. It does not require any closure of major roads, so keeps the East's transport options open.
Community connection & participation
- Walking, cycling, and even horse-riding trails that EVERYONE can freely use will increase activity levels, saving $50.3 million a year in health costs.
- Volunteer planting and maintenance days will bring people together in caring for the environment.
- The park will include local gathering spaces in natural playgrounds and picnic spots.
- Cycle and footpaths will connect suburbs, encouraging active transport at a local level.
- Increased tree cover provides increased perception of wellbeing for families (see point 3 under urban environments, above).
- Local communities and groups can build connections to nature by adopting patches of bush, or picnic spots, to help maintain.
Valuing Christchurch's culture & heritage
- It protects and celebrates the Otakaro/Avon River and its associated waterways, which the Historic Places Trust has identified as an area of high archaeological potential. Sites of historical and cultural significance are thought to be all along its course
- It will help to establish Christchurch as an eco and outdoor-activity city, complementing developments such as the Christchurch Adventure Park, the Christchurch 360 Trail, and Port Hills regeneration, to create an all-of-city environment
- It balances our outstanding built heritage with natural heritage, highlighting our unique mix of culture and landscape.
- It will restore Christchurch's cultural and bio-diverse heritage, while also preserving the historical and environmental functions of the land and waterways. This is in line with Ngai Tahu's Guiding Principles for the Christchurch rebuild.
- Retaining important place names and street names in pathways, cycleways, and so on honours and remembers the displaced communities.
- It includes potential for art and sculpture trails, as well as facilities for teaching and educating about indigenous art, craft, and mahinga kai.
A good place to work, visit, invest & do business
- Research suggests that workers with a view of, or access, to natural environments are more productive. This large swathe of nature can provide that productivity boost to workplaces along its edges.
- By creating a city-to-sea attraction, it draws tourism from the centre of town out to New Brighton, spreading the tourist dollar throughout a large section of the city, not holding it static in one place.
- It creates a place of outdoor, science, and environment education for students of all ages.
- It future-proofs and provides security to businesses in the East by removing the risk of building on marginal land, and providing a buffer against flooding and sea-level rise.
- Building a sustainable eco brand for the East creates a point of difference that attracts innovative, sustainable investment and business.