If you could have one wish for nature in the city, what would it be? Hamilton City Council is looking for your thoughts to help shape Hamilton’s Nature in the City Strategy.
The Council is asking Hamiltonians what they wish for nature in the city, how connected they feel to nature and what would help get them more involved in growing nature in Hamilton.
Hamilton has an intricate gully and river system. Gully streams across Hamilton flow into the Waikato River and play a vital role in maintaining the health of the awa (river).
Councillor Sarah Thomson, Deputy Chair of the Council’s Environment Committee, says our river, gullies and wetland provide a unique opportunity for people to connect with nature and it’s important we invest in looking after them.
“The more we invest in nature, the more nature gives back. We know if more land was covered in native plants and trees, we would have a healthier, stronger city. Clean water and a healthy environment are vital for Hamilton’s economy and appeal as a place to live, work, visit and play.
“More forest cover also provides more habitat for native birds, bats, fish and insects while having a cooling effect on the city.”
There is currently only 2% indigenous vegetation cover across the city. For nature to thrive and be sustainable over time, at least 10% cover is needed. “We’ve got a big task ahead of us, but the opportunity to work with the community to achieve this target is really exciting,” says Cr Thomson.
There’s great work already being done by mana whenua, landowners, community groups, businesses and schools, and Cr Thomson hopes more people can be inspired to contribute.
“There’s a really big social benefit that comes with connecting with others for a common cause, such as joining a community planting day or gully restoration group.”
There is also clear evidence spending time in nature improves people’s mental health. “We saw this during the COVID-19 lockdown when many people looked to nature and the outdoors to help them feel calmer during an extremely stressful time.”
Cr Thomson says the Nature in the City Strategy will help the Council to make decisions about where the city’s investment in nature should be.
Feedback will be open until Sunday 23 August. People can add their wishes for nature in the city to our online ideas wall at hamilton.govt.nz/natureinthecity or by filling in a form from libraries or the Council’s central city offices.
The Environment Committee will consider the Nature in the City Strategy at its December 2020 meeting.