The removal of some rare rainforest trees as part of a $450,000 project to stabilise the Tweed River bank at Murwillumbah’s Budd Park and improve landscaping has upset environmentalists.
The trees, some endemic to the Tweed, were planted in the park next to the visitor information/world-heritage rainforest centre by the late Bruce Chick, a pioneer of regeneration, who was known as Australia’s ‘Man of Trees’.
The works, which will begin next month and are expected to take six weeks, aim to increase the river’s visibility and make it a more accessible feature of the town centre.
Caldera Environment Centre co-ordinator Sam Dawson says the trees planted by Mr Chick in the 1980s are a ‘legacy’ to the great man’s work and council should do more to keep them.
Mr Chick, who died in 2007 aged 96, was regarded by some as Tweed’s greatest conservationist. He was a former Tweed Citizen of the Year, recipient of the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to conservation, and a Senior Australian Guardian of the Environment (SAGE) for working in a voluntary capacity.
A park at Stott’s Island, where he planted hundreds of native trees, is named after him.
Mr Dawson said a proposed realignment of a road within the park was a useless exercise and waste of money as the road was part of the erosion problem in the first place, and was not needed. A walkway would have been more appropriate.
He said one of the aims of the landscape works was to provide a ‘clear view to the river from the road’, which was ridiculous.
‘You can get a clear view of the river for most of the entire length of the road from Tweed Heads to Murwillumbah, so it’s a rationalisation of what they want to do, not a rationale,’ he said.
A Tweed Shire Council spokesman told Echonetdaily that only some of the trees in the park would be removed for the upgrade, including a stand on the riverbank whose roots had been undermined by severe erosion, and others to make way for a road realignment.
The spokesman said the park contained a mix of native and introduced species of trees, and those removed would be replaced by local species.
Approval for the upgrade was made recently by staff under delegated authority and followed a community survey earlier this year, which favoured the costlier option combining the stabilisation of the erosion-affected bank with the upgrade and landscaping of the park.
The scale of earthworks for the stabilisation works, staff said, created the opportunity to enhance park furniture, landscaping and improve access.
A staff report says Budd Park is a highly valued public open space in Murwillumbah and ‘the only point within walking distance of the town centre where residents and visitors are able to access and interact with the Tweed River’.
‘The park frames views of the river that can be glimpsed by travellers entering the town along Alma Street, and is popular for recreation and public events.
Murwillumbah is located on the banks of a beautiful reach of the Tweed River but opportunities to enjoy the amenity provided by this iconic feature are very constrained.
‘The location of flood levees, roads, steep vegetated banks and private property mean Budd Park is the only site between Tumbulgum and Byangum where facilities and access are provided for the public to enjoy the river.’