Greening the red zone in Christchurch

Christchurch researchers have retrospectively analysed the Canterbury quakes from the perspective of urban forest management, highlighting the important role trees and greenspaces played during the earthquakes.

In the research article, published this week in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, researchers point out how rows trees acted as sheltering barricades against falling debris and the open parks such in the city served as key emergency meeting and treatment areas.

The authors also explore the many the challenges of re-planting in the ‘Garden City’. They highlight the possibilities for the non-residential red zone to be turned into public parks but note that, “if Christchurch’s greenspaces are to be improved in the aftermath of the earthquakes, it will be the result of government policy.”

Author Justin Morgenroth from the University of Canterbury School of Forestry spoke further about his research with Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon. You can listen to the interview below.

The research was also covered by Fairfax’s Michael Daly for

An excerpt (read in full here):

Green value in Christchurch rebuild

Researchers fear hopes of a green Christchurch arising out of the rubble may be stymied for economic reasons.

Dr Justin Morgenroth from the forestry school at Canterbury University and Tony Armstrong from Christchurch City Council have studied the impact of earthquakes on the city’s urban forests.

In a study published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening the authors said the earthquakes had provided an opportunity to improve the urban area for future generations.

But the human tendency to want to quickly return to pre-disaster conditions could stymie those plans. Arguably the most important factor for determining the future greenspace of Christchurch was the impact of land ownership on land use.

That had been highlighted by other studies which contrasted the urban greening of Tokyo after it was firebombed in World War Two, with that in Hiroshima after the atomic bombing. Private property ownership in Tokyo had prevented ambitious plans for turning large areas into public greenspace, while Hiroshima had expanded upon standards set out in its plan.

Christchurch was in a position to learn from past successes and failures, the study said.