A 30-year journey towards a greener city is underway in Hamilton, starting with Hamilton City Council’s goals for the next decade.
Council has committed to increasing native vegetation cover from less than 2% to 10% by 2050.
At an Environment Committee Meeting this week, a Nature in the City update outlined high-level goals for the next 10 years, highlighting plans to work in collaboration with mana whenua and key stakeholders on the programme’s first planting projects early next year.
Deputy Environment Committee Chair, Councillor Sarah Thomson said Council’s vision for transforming nature in the city was bold and ambitious, yet necessary.
“Nature is an important taonga, and we need to protect it. We need to preserve the whenua, birds, forest and wildlife for future generations,” said Cr Thomson.
“Our gullies and reserves are the green lungs of our city – we know they help to build healthier, stronger, happier communities.”
At least 10% native vegetation cover will help make sure ecosystems are sustainable over time and provide habitat for native fauna, she said.
The key goals outlined for the next ten years are:
- Increase native vegetation cover in Hamilton Kirikiriroa by 3%;
- No net loss in significant natural areas from 2021 onwards;
- No decline in native species occupying our natural areas from 2022;
- An increase in native birds and other wildlife in Hamilton Kirikiriroa;
- A 100% increase in hectares treated for pests in our natural areas by 2031;
- A 100% increase to our community accessing restored natural areas by 2031;
- Participation in volunteer restoration will increase by 20% each year from 2022.
Cr Thomson said Council was focused on the long game.
“This is a 30-year journey, and there are no shortcuts. In 10 years, we can get excited about a far greener city with more community access to our gullies and reserves, so people can connect with nature. In 30 years, we’ll have thriving native vegetation, and gullies teeming with wildlife.”
Council has already committed $29 million towards Nature in the City, funded through the 2021-2031 Long-Term Plan.
Work over the next three years will begin with a focus on enhancing nature and access to Donny Park, before branching out to other gullies and reserves. Baseline monitoring will also be developed to ensure progress can be accurately measured, Cr Thomson said.
There will also be a focus on education, building meaningful partnerships, identifying new planting opportunities, and attracting at least 1000 volunteers to help shape a greener city. Council will work closely with mana whenua, landowners, community groups, businesses, and schools as plans evolve and grow, she said.
“We need to plant hundreds of thousands of plants over the next few years, but we can’t do it alone.”
“Hopefully we’ll have many Hamiltonians join us on this journey, especially some of our passionate rangatahi. Together we can transform nature in our city, one plant at a time.”
The Nature in the City Strategy was developed using community feedback in 2020. Council also worked with mana whenua to develop the vision of an environment sustaining life and ensuring people are nurtured by nature, incorporating the concept of kaitiakitanga (guardianship).
To read more about Nature in the City and find out how you can get involved, visit here.