Save money by taking nature's lead
Returning 450 hectares to native vegetation doesn’t happen overnight, and doesn’t happen for free. If we were to plant the whole Avon River Red Zone in cultivated 5-year-old plants, paying commercial rates for everything, it would cost up to $100,000 per hectare.
But, as we’ve already shown, nature can do some of the work – without charging a cent!
After the properties in the Avon River Red Zone were abandoned, native vegetation went just a little bit crazy! Thousands of native seedlings appeared, many of which had been dispersed by birds.
Unfortunately, many of these seedlings were destroyed when the houses were demolished, and the land was cleared. But others remain in sheltered and protected areas or in fenced enclaves of woodland.
As our urban oasis shows, remaining patches of woodland include many native plants that produce fleshy fruits, which birds will disperse. And there are some rare and valuable plants among them – matai, rimu, totara, kahikatea, hinau, and more.
Grass competes with our native plants for water and nutrients. If we stop grassing, stop mowing, and manage the land to encourage natural regeneration (and discourage exotic weeds) we can get a similar response again – and it will cost much, much less than $100,000 per hectare.
Volunteers provide free labour
Christchurch people have already shown they’re prepared to get stuck in and help to green many parts of their city. Together with organisations such as Trees for Canterbury, they have planted more than 850,000 native plants in and around Christchurch over 25 years.
There is a huge reservoir of goodwill, to not just plant, but also maintain our regenerating environment – at no monetary cost.
Forest and wetland park generates income
There are many ways Avon-Otakaro Forest Park can help to pay for its upkeep and maintenance. As an example, imagine a land train that runs several times a day, from Cathedral Square to New Brighton, through Avon-Otakaro Forest Park. That’s a booming tourist business right there!
Here are a few others we’ve thought of:
Events and functions
Direct commercial activity (park owned and run)
Concessions (inviting local businesses in)
National government funding streams (just look at all the health costs it will save)
Forest management (nursery sales and sustainable harvesting of trees).
Avon-Otakaro Forest Park will also make money indirectly through increased tourism. It will help to generate trade, jobs and training opportunities.
There is a well-established and growing body of evidence to suggest that green space can have a positive impact on both local and regional economic regeneration, especially for job creation, business start-up and inward investment.
And, as we’ve shown ecosystem services also provide a massive economic benefit we don’t currently account for.
You can read evidence for the financial benefits of a red zone forest and wetland park in Research & reading.
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