The planned removal of two historic coastal cypress trees in The Terrace caravan park at Brunswick Heads has upset locals concerned proposed replacement trees won’t be planted in the park itself.
The two old cypress trees, planted around 100 years ago with scores of others in the park and adjoining reserve in memory of locals who died in World War 1, have been earmarked for removal due to a perceived risk to park users.
The trees were due to be chopped down yesterday (21 September), and as part of the approval granted to park managers (North Coast Holiday Parks – NCHP) by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), compensatory planting in a ratio of 10:1, or 20 new seedlings, was set.
But Brunswick Heads Progress Association secretary Patricia Warren says the replacements should be planted in the park along the same grid the memorial trees were planted, four metres apart.
Mrs Warren said location was the most important issue and park managers had been given discretion as to where they plant the seedlings, but she said that ‘lacks any transparency’ and she had no faith in NCHP to do the right thing.
She said the g’iven the contentious behaviour’ of NCHP in how they managed the area of land where the memorial pines were located, ‘transparency is vital’.
Mrs Warren recently wrote to environment minister Mark Speakman about the issue, saying she had ‘ground truthed evidence of how park management is not implementing any tree management strategy for the preservation of extant trees and preparation for their replacement’.
She said managers had ‘dismissed’ tree-management strategies recommended in the park plans of management (PoMs) over the years.
‘Instead, current practice by park management is in violation of every recommendation of those reports.
‘Given that 20 seedlings are to be the compensatory plantings, this represents an opportunity for preparing replacement of the extant trees and/or replacing those that have been removed from the original grid of trees which had been planted approximately four metres apart.’
Mrs Warren said she had asked the minister to direct the parks trust to plant compensatory trees ‘within the existing park and not elsewhere on the Terrace Reserve’.
In July this year Byron Shire Council, which licences the NCHP to run the parks, reaffirmed its position that the memorial trees were not part of the operational area of the caravan park.
Mrs Warren told Mr Speakman that ‘regrettably there is not one scintilla of trust in the intent of the current “management strategy” to preserve, maintain or protect the extant memorial trees’.
She said that earlier this year, in preparation for the Anzac Day centenary, Brunswick Heads Public School students intended to plant six cypress seedlings ‘in situ’ in preparation for the replacement of the extant memorial trees but they were ‘outrightly refused, with no reasons given’.
She said managers had refused because it would ‘thwart their agenda to expand their operational area’.
She also accused managers of neglecting the trees’ health over the years by allowing camping vehicles to park on top of the trees’ root system or placing wet mulch next to their trunks, which could kill them.
Mrs Warren said she complained about the mulch-on-trunks problem but nothing was done.
Meanwhile, longtime NCHP manager Jim Bolger has left his position but no reasons have been provided.
The NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust, which oversees NCHP, has confirmed Mr Bolger’s departure but a spokesperson said they did ‘not comment on staff matters’.