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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Protected trees trashed by holiday park’s ‘confirmed bookings’

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Managers of the Brunswick Heads Terrace caravan park, NSWCHPT, were accused in November 2017 by residents of attempting to kill off protected trees by mulching the root system. Residents claim NSWCHPT are ignoring expert ecologist advice so they can increase their commercial camping activities. Photo Aslan Shand

Managers have defended their decision to allow caravans, cars and tents next to protected and vulnerable cypress pine trees at the Brunswick Heads Terrace caravan park.

As previously reported, NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT) have been taken to task by residents over neglectful management of the pines, some of which are thought to be up to 400 years old.

It’s the latest indication from the embattled government-run corporation that its pursuit of revenue from visitors trumps any environmental responsibility.

A NSWCHPT spokesperson told The Echo, ‘New bookings for the southern end of the Terrace Reserve will be for a reduced number of soft camping sites from February 1, 2018. Prior to taking the decision in August 2017 to implement soft camping only, the Trust had already confirmed bookings for guests with caravans and camp trailers.’

‘The Trust needs to honour the current summer and upcoming Easter bookings, where existing bookings have been confirmed. Other than these peak periods in 2018, the area will be limited to soft camping from February 1, 2018.

‘Every effort will be made to accommodate our returning guests with caravans and camp trailers for their 2019 summer holiday at other more suitable sites within the park.’

Yet the NSWCHPT decision to allow even ‘soft camping’ in peak periods is at odds with Council’s independent ecology report, which states that to ensure the health of the trees, they must be left alone.

Local resident Patricia Warren referred NSWCHPT to Council’s August 25 resolution ‘which explicitedly stated a 5m radius from the pines is required to protect the critical root system.’

It’s the latest in a long list of gaffs and belligerent corporate behaviour by the NSWCHPT, which is headed by CEO Steve Edmonds.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. Rubbish. the so called expert Ecologist contradicts every other independent Ecologists reports and also contradicts the assertions made by Patricia Warren and Sean O’Meara about the trees being a WW1 memorial. Please explain Patricia: either the quoted Ecologists findings are inaccurate, and you should not therefore be supporting them, or the are correct, in which case you and Sean’s assertions are not correct. You can’t have it both ways!

  2. Obviously Geoffrey you have not read the latest ecology report. It clearly states that SOME of the trees in the Terrace Reserve are over 400 years old and as such some of the rowed trees may have already been there prior to 1918 and others were then planted as memorial trees beside them in rows. An earlier ecologists report provided by North Coast Holiday Parks believed the rows were planted but made no reference to the ages of the trees.

    Go for a walk through the park and measure the girths of the trees and they range from around 3m down to around 50cm. The 3m ones are certainly the older ones but it is obvious the majority of the trees that are in rows and equal distances apart are plantings with very similar girths. These are the 100 year old memorial pines.

    As my Grandfather was one of the locals who helped plant these memorial trees in 1918 and the plantings are very well documented in no less than 3 newspaper reports from 1918, I have no doubt most of the trees are some of the reported “300 living memorial Coastal Cyprus Pines planted by local families” in the Terrace Reserve.

    Despite the numerous documented newspaper reports of The Progress Association and residents conducting memorial tree plantings in August 1918, the Ecologists report could not conclude that all the trees in the rows were planted due to estimated age differences. However, the report concludes that whether all the trees were plantings or not .. “A natural ‘grove’ of trees dedicated to the memory of those killed in war is no less important than if it had been planted to achieve that purpose. The ecologist then stated a combination of existing and planted pines, “only enhances the values on both counts (natural and cultural).”

    10 years ago the initial ecologists report from by North Coast Holiday Parks clearly stated that the pine trees were protected and sensitive and that no camping or activities should take place within 5m of the trunks. This directive has been totally ignored and the trees are now in poor condition. The latest report paid for by council has said exactly the same and council as regulators now intends to enforce this directive.

    Regardless of whether the Coastal Cyprus Pines are planted or not is environmentally and legally of no significance. These trees are now registered as an endangered ecological community with less than 40 hectares left in Australia and it is an offence to harm them in any way. They must be protected and the latest ecology report believes the only way to do this is to get rid of all camping around them.

    As 2018 will be the one hundredth anniversary of the planting of these historic WW1 memorial pines by the local community, it is time a few people with vested interests (i.e. Geoffrey, who doesn’t want his caravan moved) started showing a bit of respect for this well documented and significant part of Brunswick Heads history.

  3. Geoffrey, I would hope that by now you would take on board that the colony of Coastal Cypress Pines has been listed as Threatened and Endangered Species since about the late 1990s. Then North Coast Accommodation Trust’s environmental consultant, Idyll Spaces reported to the 2010 POM about their status and made recommendations as to their protection. This was again echoed in the same consultant’s more comprehensive report to the 2013 exhibited POM.

    Engaged by Byron Shire Council, globally recognised ecologist Rob Kooyman has reported the coastal cypress pines as remnant trees with varying ages citing that some could be over 400 years old. Any cursory observation of the girth of the pines in the contentious area of the Terrace caravan park will attest to varying ages of these trees. Clarence Valley Heritage consultant cited newspaper articles referencing the plantings of WW1 Memorial Pines, a project initiated by the Brunswick Heads Progress Association. Neither consultant dismissed the iconic value of the pines. Only scanning each pine for their age would distinguish between possible remnant trees and planted. What we are definitely aware of is that a grid pattern is visible confirming what Darcy O’Meara and Jack Bashforth have stated, to represent a company of soldiers.

    What is disturbing is how this entire area has been treated by the Trust who holds responsibility for what its caravan park managers have done over this Xmas/New Year period. It can only be described as an act of bastardy to allow the big caravans and mobile homes into the southern area and parked over the critical root system as has happened this season. The explanation has been that the outgoing managers of the Terrace caravan park took the bookings 12 months ago. This is not a revenue exercise as the sites involved would yield the same revenue, because of their classification, if they had been given over to tents. It begs the question why caravans and mobile homes this year and not before? Such heavy vehicles are irreparably damaging to these pines. And this is on top of the mulching over the critical root systems, plus the subsequent heavy rainfall which would release chemicals into the soil, albeit from the hardwood mulch. On the latter point, the Trust is supporting its ecologist who doesn’t have similar support from a renowned ecologists and two independent nursery operators versed in what is the appropriate management of these trees.

  4. Parking next to a trees is now environmental vandalism ? Is this why we can’t access National Parks in our motor vehicles because we will upset the trees ?

  5. Obviously Geoffrey you have not read the latest ecology report. It clearly states that some of the trees in the Terrace Reserve are over 400 years old and as such some of the rowed trees may have already been there prior to 1918 and others could have planted as memorial trees beside them in rows.

    Go for a walk through the park and measure the girths of the trees and they range from around 3m down to around 50cm. The 3m ones are certainly the older ones but it is obvious the majority of the trees that are in rows and equal distances apart are plantings with very similar girths. These are the 100 year old memorial pines.

    As my Grandfather was one of the locals who helped plant these memorial trees in 1918 and the plantings are very well documented in no less than 3 newspaper reports from 1918, I have no doubt most of the trees are some of the reported “300 living memorial Coastal Cyprus Pines planted by local families” in the Terrace Reserve. The Reserve at that stage was known as the Brunswick Flora Reserve.

    Despite the numerous documented newspaper reports of The Progress Association and residents conducting memorial tree plantings in August 1918, the latest ecologists report could not conclude that all the trees in the rows were planted due to estimated age differences. However, the report concludes that whether all the trees were plantings or not .. “A natural ‘grove’ of trees dedicated to the memory of those killed in war is no less important than if it had been planted to achieve that purpose. The ecologist then stated a combination of existing and planted pines, “only enhances the values on both counts (natural and cultural).”

    10 years ago the initial ecologists report presented by North Coast Holiday Parks clearly stated that the pine trees were protected and sensitive and that no camping or activities should take place within 5m of the trunks as these trees have a very sensitive critical root structure and soil compression will kill them.. This directive was totally ignored. The latest report paid for by council has said exactly the same and council as regulators now intend to enforce this directive.

    Regardless of whether the Coastal Cyprus Pines are planted or not is environmentally and legally of no significance. These trees are now registered as an endangered ecological community with less than 40 hectares left in Australia and it is an offence to harm them in any way. They must be protected and the latest ecology report believes the only way to do this is to get rid of all camping around them.

    As 2018 will be the one hundredth anniversary of the planting of these historic WW1 memorial pines by the local community, it is time a few people with vested interests (i.e. Geoffrey, who doesn’t want his caravan moved) started showing a bit of respect for this well documented and significant part of Brunswick Heads history and put environmental concerns ahead of the almighty dollar..

  6. Neville, it’s not about the trees mate. It’s part of an ongoing campaign of revenge against the State Government for taking the parks off the Council, Parks which the Council for years had financially and structurally mismanaged.Most of what the Park trust are doing has been approved by other expert ecologists. It’s all political, thats why the local RSL want nothing to do with the issue of whether the trees are a memorial or not. That’s why the small group of people driving the campaign ignore all the historical and ecological evidence that disproves their arguments. And by the way, who is paying for all the changes being forced on the Parks by this small group: you and I and all tax payers are, as it is State Government money i.e. our money.

  7. Geoffrey’s lack of historical context reflects poorly on him as it lends to factual misrepresentation. A Community Committee used to manage the caravan parks until a change in the Local Government Act 1986 brought in the first bit of legislation to regulate caravan parks, homes estates and camping grounds. Council then took over management of the caravan parks. Their legal obligation was to bring the caravan parks into compliance with the new legislation. In June 1988 Council’s minutes identified gross encroachments over adjoining public lands in each of the caravan parks, including encroachments onto Council’s own road reserves. Some of these encroachments were of a seasonal nature only. Nothing really happened, other than some peculiar capital works projects like amenities blocks and even those were non-compliant in terms of setbacks from road reserves. However, it wasn’t until permanent residents along the Simpson’s Creek foreshore blocked unfettered public access did the caravan park issue hit the public domain. As a result, a plethora of non-compliance issues were on the table.

    Council’s resolutions against Plans of Management ….about 5 of them from the early 2000s onwards…..were about operational boundaries and setbacks.

    In 2006 Minister Tony Kelly of ICAC fame dismissed Council as the manager of the Reserve Trust on the grounds of mismanagement. The confidential report used to do this was accessed by outgoing GM, Graham Faulkner. The data used to dismiss Council was taken over the time Australian Tourist Accommodation Pty Ltd had the consultancy to manage and prepare POM for the caravan parks. The same consultant caused considerable stress to community groups, park residents and tourists alike. His contract with BSC was not renewed!

    In the confidential document Sept 2005, the charge of mismanagement was largely based on the prices paid to secure long term leases from foreshore sites. At that time, there was an entrenched speculative market by long term tenants who were demanding outrageous prices for their dwellings, prices that certainly did not reflect the market value of the dwelling. (Note, that leases do not mean ownership of the land on which a dwelling is site. The site is only leased.). Fast forward to today, and I now compare what the Trust is doing to acquire dwellings on foreshore sites. Geoffrey would be well aware that the Trust is paying well over market value for dwellings on foreshore sites! It certainly bespeaks of double standards?

    As for Geoffrey’s reference to what the NSWCHPT is doing has been approved by other expert ecologist, I would ask him to name those ecologists.

    Geoffrey, when it was said directly to my face that the local RSLs don’t want to interfere with the business interests of the Trust, the it gives another perspective to ‘it’s all political’. The local RSLs’ executives have indeed been very political in the issue of the WW1 Memorial Pines…indeed so political it is, in my opinion, [not in keeping with] what the RSL stands for.

    The determination of the State to take public lands and put them into their commercial operations is the agenda, no more no less. I remind Geoffrey of the fact that the confidential report used to dismiss Council also recommended the long term commercial of the caravan parks, in part to mitigate community interference! That community interference, I applaud as it has been a sustained effort to keep invaluable foreshore parklands as public open and recreational spaces. Geoffrey, it begs the question, what do you support because if you are supporting the Trust, then you are supporting the loss of these prime lands that once gone won’t be returned.

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