A spate of shocking tree vandalism on public land at South Kingscliff, including the chopping down of a mature littoral rainforest tuckerooro last week, has outraged Dunecare volunteers, locals and Tweed Shire Council which has been trying to deter the increasing destruction along the coast.
The rainforest pocket, on the south side of Cudgen Creek on the track out to Sutherland Point, was recently vandalised and included the iconic coastal tree species, the tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anacardioides).
Council staff say the tuckeroo is a key littoral rainforest tree along NSW north coast which plays an important role in dune stabilisation and remnant coastal habitat. It is slow growing and long-lived.
Tweed mayor Gary Bagnall was shocked at the vandalism last week, which came days after he met with coastal managers from around Australia to discuss the ‘critical issue of protecting dune vegetation’.
‘To come back home to this news was extremely disappointing, the vegetation vandalism policy adopted by council only four months ago was a response to this type of incident,’ Cr Bagnall said.
He said he had moved for the new, strengthened policy and that ‘our community expects those that live here, and those that visit, to protect the fauna and flora of our shire’.
‘I would like to stress that dune vegetation is critical to the protection of our coast and to express my thanks to all our volunteers who donate their time to Dunecare and other such organisations.’
Council’s Vegetation Vandalism on Public Land Policy was adopted last November but opposed by the pro-development faction of Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne.
New ‘shame’ signs where the vandalism has occurred, increased patrolling, monitoring and enforcement of public coastal areas are the cornerstones of the new policy to try and combat the illegal poisoning, mowing, pruning, removal and ringbarking of trees in public land.
Residents are usually suspected of cutting down vegetation on public land in front of their properties to improve their views.
Council and state government staff say tree poisoning and removal from council reserves and private property appears to have reached epidemic proportions in some areas of coastal NSW.
The policy says new measures were needed because ‘if left unchecked, vandalism can have substantial financial and human resource costs for councils’ including the direct loss of the asset value of the vegetation, the cost of the investigation, rehabilitation and repair, and the cost of implementing punitive or deterrence measures’.