Auckland may be New Zealand's largest city, but built up urban space covers less than 10 per cent of the super city. Some 13 per cent is still in indigenous forest - think the Waitakere and Hunua ranges - manuka and kanuka take up another 8.5 per cent, exotic forests like Woodhill and Riverhead 10 per cent, and almost half is planted in high producing exotic grass.
That's something to bear in mind when considering how Auckland can lower its carbon output.
About six per cent of the city's greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, while the extensive forestry, natural areas and tree planting programmes remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Government decisions mean agricultural emissions are largely unchecked, with the sector given minimal regulatory imperatives, incentives or information to reduce greenhouse gasses.
The government's light-handed approach is also an encouragement for people to clear established trees away from their view.
Scientist Suzie Greenhalgh from Landcare Research, who contributed to the agriculture arm of the Low Carbon Auckland Plan, says the working group focused on four areas where the city could get most bang for the buck.
The first element is growing the extent of urban and regional forests by protecting existing forests and planting trees, mainly natives, through the super city.
Riparian and marginal land would be especially targeted because they can help reduce the effects of flooding and protect against sea level rises and storm surges. Saline ecosystems and coastal corridors would be protected and expanded where appropriate.
Existing remnants of vegetation could be linked up to create green corridors for native animal life. Greenhalgh concedes some of the existing green corridors exist because they are designated for future transport needs, so there could be some competition with transport planners.
The expanded rural and urban forests will, in time, produce considerable volumes of biomass residue. The next element in the plan is to turn that into energy either as process heat, burning it in co-generation plants, or by converting it to biofuel.
That will require planning to put residue collection points close to industries that rely on heat energy. A small start has already been made on replacing coal fired boilers in schools with wood chip boilers, but a lot more work is needed on both the technology and the logistics needed for the plan.
Enhancing local food production means getting the best use out of the region's best soil, rather than it becoming the next greenfields housing subdivision, as well as encouraging more food growing in backyards and communal spaces such as urban farms. There's logic to not mowing the berms after all.
Growing food locally improves self-sufficiency, builds resilience to potential resource scarcities, and reduces the greenhouse gasses associated with transporting food over large distances.
The fourth area where the plan sees potential is marine sequestration. There is limited understanding of the role coastal and marine ecosystems play in greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration, coastal protection, and their effect on other ecosystems.
"The marine environment is crucial for holding carbon but we don't know enough about coastal processes," Greenhalgh says. Work is being done by the council and research institutions on filling in the gaps, and the Marine Spatial Plan will provide for enhanced coastal and marine sequestration.
It will come as no surprise that the people's republic of Grey Lynn is held up in the plan as an example of what can be done once a community gets behind ideas of sustainability. More than 5000 residents are networked with Grey Lynn 2030, the local Transition Town movement.
Grey Lynn 2030 member Suzanne Kendrick says she first got involved cleaning up a local stream, and learned how easy it was to promote change by engaging people in local issues that they care about.
Initiatives over the past five years include developing community gardens, working on ways to increase resource efficiency and reduce and reuse the community's waste, setting up a monthly car boot sale to promote recycling, and running a weekly farmers' market, which includes an area where locals can sell the excess from their gardens.
• Aucklanders are proud of their reputation as a city in a forest.
• The city's lush tree canopy cleans our air and actively sequesters carbon dioxide.
• The trees that make up urban green spaces and rural forests contribute significantly to the general health and wellbeing of Aucklanders by providing a respite for people from the city.
• Excess organic matter from agriculture and tree pruning is used to generate clean energy and stimulate economic prosperity in local communities.
• Productive agricultural soils are protected.
• The city becomes increasingly self-sufficient through local food production and the efficient use of natural resources.
• The coastal and marine environment is protected and sustainably managed.
Residents can have their say on the Auckland Low Carbon Action Plan on the Auckland Council website. The closing date is 7 April 2014.