February 11 2019 by Adam Smith, Treespace Founder
A forest powered by the people - Kia ora. At the end of 2018, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported we had only ten years to avoid catastrophic climate-driven change. Individuals, communities, towns, and countries have been asked by scientists, world leaders and school children to account for environmental, social and carbon costs. Essential to this is the need to take a regenerative approach to our lives and the economy.
Treespace is our personal response to addressing the complex issues of climate change by planting native trees at scale and creating an opportunity for others to participate. New Zealand’s goal must be carbon neutrality and we want to make as big an impact as we can. The first site chosen for a Treespace native reforestation project is Mt Dewar. Just 7 kilometres from downtown Queenstown, Mt Dewar has 1,780 hectares of currently unproductive high-country farmland that’s burdened with wilding pines and introduced pest problems. Our goal is to restore and rebalance 99% of the mountain’s ecosystem through large scale native re-forestation and natural regeneration, using 0.1% of the land to establish building platforms for a mountainside forest community.
Proceeds from the sale of house sites will help fund planting over 400 hectares of native mountain beech forest across mid to lower elevations of Mt Dewar over a 15-year period. The maturing trees have the added benefit of visually absorbing future buildings with the forest settlement area. This, alongside the rewilding and ecological restoration of a further 1300 hectares of native shrubland and alpine tussock, will make Mt Dewar the largest commercial native reforestation in New Zealand’s history. A forest powered by the people. The Treespace project will provide housing for 53 families within a defined area on the lower corner of the mountain that adjoins Arthurs Point. 80% of the home sites proposed will be small footprint (10m x 10m) to promote small-house design to minimise environmental impact and maximise affordability. Public enjoyment, education and forging connections with nature are fundamental to the project’s success.
The addition of a further 20kms of hiking and biking trails and the realignment of existing farm tracks will deliver over 50kms of public biking, hiking, and access trails across the mountain including a ridgeline trail, a summit to Long Gully route and connecting the Zoot trail to the lowest Coronet Peak Road base car. Regardless of Mt Dewar’s compromised ecological state, its current legal classification as an ‘Outstanding Natural Landscape’ means that the Treespace team are now seeking council and community endorsement to proceed. It is our hope that long-term thinking prevails and any potential short-term visual effects of buildings until the forest establishes itself are justified in light of the much bigger environmental movement that we are all a part of. If you would like to know more about the project or submissions hop onto our Facebook @treespacecommunity and we’d be happy to answer any questions. Nga mihi.