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Byron Shire
July 24, 2021

Majestic old tree faces the axe

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treeLuis Feliu

The state agency charged with running public crown reserves and caravan parks at Brunswick Heads plans to chop down an historic gum tree in the middle of a popular park opposite the local pub.

Incensed locals are once again gearing up to fight to preserve the majestic old eucalypt, which is around 80 years old.

North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) says an arborist has declared the tree dangerous and just over a week ago the agency fenced it off around its base.

Locals say the tree in Banner Park near the children’s playground provides shade and is home to many birds.

One told Echonetdaily that NCHP ‘tried to chop it down years ago but local intervention stopped that and an arborist was brought in to do remedial work on it’.

‘What is needed is definitely a second arborist’s opinion, particularly in view of the willingness to chop, all on the allegation of ‘safety’,’ the longtime local said.

NCHP park co-ordinator Shari Shiels this morning said she would email the arborist’s report to Echonetdaily.

Ms Shiels said the arborist had also undertaken a second inspection and report, climbing up the tree and taking photos of it from the top down, which she said confirmed the initial report that it was dangerous.

The second, ‘aerial’ assessment found that ‘the mid section of the tree contains a considerable amount of hollows and decay’.

‘Three of the largest scaffold limbs have large damaged and decaying elbow sections. Cockatoo damage is present which is unlikely to repair and ongoing damage expected. A lot of this extensive damage is not visible from the ground,’ the report said.

Ms Shiels said that report ‘finds that damage to the majority of the limbs in this tree are extensive and significant and deems the tree to be dangerous’.

But she said the tree could not be cut down without authority from Byron Shire Council, and documentation had been sent to Council for ‘further consideration’.

A Foreshore Protection Group spokesman told Echonetdaily that NCHP ‘often chops down mature trees in its parks and reserves with no real justification’.

‘They do it by stealth, first taking a couple of limbs they say are dangerous till there’s nothing left, they then say it’s dying and it has to be taken down for safety but the reality is that the removal of the tree allows them more camping spaces,’ he said.

‘At the Terrace reserve, their contractor uses poison to kill grasses and other plants along the banks of the estuary, causing erosion as there’s no vegetation to hold the soil together.’

A summer-holiday market with numerous stalls is held every year in Banner Park around the tree.

Since the controversial takeover from council of the Brunswick Heads parks by the state government almost 10 years ago, NCHP has been accused by locals of ‘land grabs’ by encroaching on crown and council land such as road reserves.



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