A Christchurch environment group is proposing turning more than 400 hectares of the residential red-zone into native forest.
In a submission to Christchurch City Council's long-term plan this morning Greening the Red-zone proposed turning 450 hectares of land in Bexley, Burwood and Dallington into a native forest and wetland.
Landscape architect and Greening the Red-zone member Mark Huxtable said the Avon-Otakaro Forest Park, could incorporate a visitor centre and use existing roads as walk and cycle ways.
"A visitor centre close to the city centre could service the majority of activities in the park, and community parks on the fringes of the forest would provide opportunities for picnics, natural play, and places to relax and unwind."
He said Greening the Red-zone simply wanted the council to consider the idea, as the future ownership of the land is unclear.
"Working with our ecologists we have come up with what we think is a pretty accurate map of forest and wetland habitats.
"By planting trees such as totara, matai and kahikatea it would provide a habitat for native birds like tui, kaka, bellbirds and kakariki to return."
He said the proposal is about working with nature, not against it, to create the best environment for the city and its residents.
The submission outlined additional environmental benefits such as preventing flooding in the eastern suburbs and lowering air pollution.