As Ashburton township and much of the district has a relatively flat land, the maintenance of significant trees is important for the amenity they provide.
Much of the quality of Ashburton township's landscape derives from its individual mature trees and groups of trees, thus it is important that they are protected from indiscriminate or unnecessary removal.
The majority of heritage and notable trees appear within the Ashburton township with some in Barrhill, Rakaia and Methven.
A significant number of trees, and to a lesser extent special garden areas, have been planted and established in various parks, reserves and other public areas to commemorate special events.
These events may include visits by Royalty, Heads of State and other dignitaries, commemoration of international, national and local events and persons, anniversaries of community organisations and other events considered appropriate for formal recognition.
With the passage of time these plantings assume an historic significance, i.e. a record of past events or persons. For most plantings a commemorative plaque is installed at the base of the tree.
Generally only those trees that are long lived, healthy and do not cause problems or are significantly damaged are considered. Other criteria that can result in trees having a lesser level of protection are trees that have been cut back at some stage during their life, are misshapen or are a common species to the town. Only the best specimens are considered worthy of protection.
Trees have been classified based on consideration of the following three categories:
- Historical Significance
- Scientific Significance
- Landmark Significance
Historical Significance - means that the tree has been planted by an early known settler or group of settlers of Ashburton and is of such importance to the history of the district that it should remain for the life of the tree.
Scientific Significance - means that the tree is either one that is generally rarely seen in cultivation, or is an exceptional example of a more common species. Such examples do not necessarily have to be large specimens but of such rarity or so outstanding that their preservation is of the greatest importance.
Landmark Significance - means that the tree is of such dimensions and significance that its removal would cause irreplaceable loss to the skyline landscape of the district.