Wellington City Councillors have approved a new Outer Green Belt Management Plan which will oversee the 3000 hectares of reserves along the ridges that separate the city’s urban and rural areas. One of the key initiatives of the new plan is to complete the Skyline Track to create a continuous route through the Outer Green Belt, from the rugged South Coast right through to the Porirua City boundary in the north.
The Council’s Natural Environment Portfolio Leader, Cr Peter Gilberd, says the Outer Green Belt reserves are part of what makes Wellington a city where people want to live and where the natural environment thrives both for its own sake and to support the growing city.
The Outer Green Belt offers so many different outdoor experiences, with an ecology that’s rich and diverse, on a scale rarely seen so close to a major city. This precious resource, right there on our doorstep means we can enjoy city living, yet still have access to wild and invigorating outdoor spaces.
“The Plan captures a long term vision for this much-cherished and strategically significant part of the Wellington reserves network and the role it will play as the city grows and changes.”
The Outer Green Belt contributes to how the City looks and feels. The new plan seeks to protect and enhance the hills around the city as an important contributor to keeping Wellington’s compact form.
Cr Gilberd says the updated plan is the result of over two years of work by the Council to review the 2004 Outer Green Belt Management Plan. “This involved extensive public engagement, including a wide range of activities to get as many people involved as possible.
Cr Gilberd describes the OGB as “an incredible asset - the Council now has a plan for the next ten years that will ensure management will help maximise the benefits of the reserves for people and for the environment”.
The community ground swell to rid the forest of pests and enable native bird populations to thrive needs to be supported by investment in weed eradication which is another plan priority.
And it’s all about listening to the community. The Council considered land management in the spaces and the plan finds a balance between different values associated with the reserves. For example, the ability to keep some areas free of tall vegetation to make the most of breath-taking views and what the best way to do that could be if grazing animals were removed over time. The plan also works to resolve issues of conflict from the many demands on this key open space, whether between walkers and mountain bikers, conservation groups and illegal trail builders or private and public uses of land.
The new plan also describes the need to support individuals and groups to get out into the reserves and connect to nature, which in today’s busy world is more valuable than ever.
Improved facilities at key entrances will make the Outer Green Belt Reserves more accessible to people who experience a variety of barriers, so everyone can enjoy the reserves.