Starting next week, the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) embarks on an extensive (12-month) flora revitalising, tree planting and maintenance programme in Avarua.
This work will cover the Avarua Township, Punanga Nui Market, Avatiu Wharf and Panama Reserve areas as part of CIIC’s overarching Avarua Town Plan Te Tau Papa O Avarua.
The main purpose of this work is to revitalise the township’s flora landscape including eliminating any public safety hazards and to help preserve those trees identified as healthy, as well as their surrounding environments.
To help accomplish this, earlier this year local company Baker Tree Services was engaged to conduct a detailed and comprehensive stocktake and health assessment of all 506 trees within the above-mentioned public areas.
In completing this stocktake, Baker Trees have documented the species, size and common or Cook Islands Maori names of each tree. In addition, they have assessed what risks (if any) each tree presents and advised what actions they believe are necessary for both safety reasons and to best preserve the health of each tree.
Of the 506 trees assessed, 170 are in the Avarua Township area as measured from the start of the median strip outside The Bond Store, all the way through town to the Vaikapuangi Stream next to Trader Jack’s. It is throughout this area that the necessary tree maintenance works will first commence, starting from Avarua East Park, seaside of the Banana Court.
Baker Trees has advised that there are five trees in this area – less than 3% of the total – which require removal, four of which are suffering from major rot, with one already completely dead. Two of these trees are toa ironwood (including the dead one), while three are pu‘au sea hibiscus.
The remaining 165 trees require varying levels of care, ranging from no actions required, through to trimming, topping or limb removal in the case of particularly heavy or rotting limbs. De-nutting has also been recommended for roughly a dozen coconut trees.
In addition to these five throughout the Avarua Township area, thirteen of the 183 trees in the Panama Reserve area have also been slated for removal at a later date. All 153 trees throughout the Punanga Nui Market and Avatiu Wharf area currently require limited if any attention.
Outside of the abovementioned areas, two palm trees and two coconut trees in the vicinity of the Banana Court are also planned for removal, with costs to be covered by the Banana Court Company. There is also an additional tree on Constitution Drive that has been assessed as requiring removal as well.
In all cases, the preservation of native trees wherever possible is a top priority for CIIC, except where public safety is an issue.
“The importance of flora, trees and plants is indisputably of the utmost importance to our way of life and Government priorities. The planting of more than fifty new trees and several hundred new plants is also planned under Te Tau Papa O Avarua. Plants and trees from our nursery in Harley Street, where a variety are being grown and nurtured, will be utilised throughout the town areas over the next 12-months – once our planting schedule has been finalised” said CIIC CEO Allan Jensen.
All tree maintenance work and new nursery trees and plants form part of Te Tau Papa O Avarua project which is funded by the Cook Islands Infrastructure Trust Fund.