OPINION: One of the reasons so many people love living in Christchurch City is that we’re never far from the great outdoors, writes Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Environment Canterbury President Jenny Hughey.
We have the austere beauty of the Port Hills as a backdrop to our town and the mountains and sea nearby. The Banks Peninsula, with its picturesque bays and spectacular scenery, is also on our doorstep.
But imagine if we could bring nature even closer to our doorstep? Imagine if we could connect with nature just by going about our daily activities.
We have the ability to make that happen. Cities don’t have to be concrete jungles dominated by buildings and roads. They can be brought to life by nature and filled with green spaces.
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Before European colonization, Christchurch was a mixture of wetlands, waterways and kahikatea forests used by NgÄi Tahu for gathering food.
When the first European settlers arrived, they realized the importance of having open green spaces in a city, which is why they created Hagley Park.
Fast forward 157 years and Christchurch has over 1,200 parks and gardens, which is why we are recognized as the Garden City of New Zealand.
But we can do more to make our city greener and healthier and to improve the natural capital in our living environment.
Doing this will not only improve our health and well-being, it will also help us meet our climate change goals and ensure that we leave a city that future generations will be proud to inherit.
That is why we wholeheartedly support Press campaign to make Åtautahi Christchurch New Zealand’s first national park town.
A national park town represents a targeted community effort to improve a town’s quality of life, through better connections between people and nature.
The concept started in the UK, where London became the world’s first national park city in 2019.
We want to make Christchurch a national park city and show that you can combine a metropolitan lifestyle with the beauty of nature.
We are already on the right track for this.
The ÅtÄkaro Avon River Corridor, which is four times the size of Hagley Park, has given us a unique opportunity to create spaces where people can enjoy the outdoors and connect with nature.
The 11-kilometer âgreen columnâ that will cross this area will include hiking trails, nature trails, bicycle paths, community spaces such as playgrounds, picnic areas and barbecue areas, as well as large ecological restoration areas and wetlands.
This is an intergenerational project, but the work has started, with regular mass planting events occurring as part of ecological restoration efforts. Soon this area will be teeming with birds and other wildlife.
We plant 40,000 kahikatea in the Cranford Basin, and each year Christchurch City Council makes money available through the Biodiversity Partnership Fund to support and encourage initiatives that protect and enhance native biodiversity on the private land.
We are also funding more Urban Rangers and Partnership Coordinators to work with groups, schools and businesses who want to volunteer in parks by planting, maintaining and caring for their local green spaces.
In collaboration with Environment Canterbury, we are working to improve the health of our waterways. In recent years, we have taken a ‘green and blue’ approach to stormwater management in Christchurch. You might not realize it, but some of the recreation areas and vegetated green spaces that you enjoy around town are actually deliberately designed to handle the surface water that then seeps into our water system. rainwater and our waterways.
Environment Canterbury also places Christchurch City’s amenity values ââat the forefront of many of its work programs. Staff worked with the Christchurch-West Melton Aquatic Zone Committee and community groups to control pests and restore habitats at sites of high biological value like the Åtukaikino Wetland and the River Styx, as well as new restoration corridors like Avoca Valley. The work will give a helping hand to birds and freshwater species, protect water quality and restore vulnerable waterways for the enjoyment of future generations.
The Enviroschools program, coordinated by Environment Canterbury in partnership with City Council, helps children and young people plan, design and implement sustainable development actions that are important to them and their communities.
CHRIS SKELTON / STUFF
Hayley Guglietta is keen to galvanize the Cantabrian people to support the idea of ââcreating New Zealand’s first national park town.
In Christchurch, hundreds of students in 28 schools are discovering their place and participating in initiatives that help make our city a wonderful and sustainable place to live. For example, Heathcote Valley and Lyttelton Primary Schools (in partnership with the Lyttelton Port Company and the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust) have been taking action to restore the biodiversity of Lyttelton Port Saddle for several years, by planting, maintaining and trapping them. predators.
We have a thriving Food Resilience Network and an active Canterbury Community Garden Association which is creating a growing network of community gardens across Christchurch.
Many private developers, when they rebuilt after the earthquakes, have âgreenedâ their buildings and created courtyard areas with grass and trees so that office workers can enjoy the weather outside. .
Some people might wonder why we put so much emphasis on greening our city, but the benefits of doing so are huge.
Green cities have better air quality because trees and plants not only help produce the oxygen we breathe, but they also help filter pollutants from the air, making the air cleaner and more healthy. Most importantly, they sequester carbon, which helps slow the rate of climate change.
The more trees, shrubs and plants we have, the more birds, animals and insects there are that can create their own healthy and sustainable ecosystems.
Time spent outdoors improves people’s health and well-being. Spending time in nature relieves stress, helps lower blood pressure, and puts us in a better mood. People who live in green neighborhoods are also more likely to get out and exercise.
The design, construction and maintenance of new green spaces also create jobs and new opportunities for nature-based tourism, boosting the economy and employment rates.
If a city in New Zealand is ideally placed to be a national park city, it is Christchurch City.
Together, let’s make it happen.