The CEO of Reflections Holiday Parks (the renamed North Coast Holiday Parks), has dismissed resident Patricia Warren’s assessment of their arborist report regarding proposed works within the Coastal Cypress Pine forest community at the Terrace Holiday Park, Brunswick Heads.
The long standing issue has seen a decline of the health of the protected trees over many years, and the latest proposal by the government run corporation suggests using concrete pads, called load cells, to distribute the weight of campervans and cars.
The upcoming Council agenda this Thursday tables the proposal, and staff have recommended deferring the matter and seeking an ‘urgent meeting’ with holiday parks managers, their consultants, as well as Robert Kooyman and two representatives from the Brunswick Community.
Ecologist Robert Kooyman provided an independent report to Council, which suggested the best way to let the trees recover and gain health is to leave them alone.
Yet Reflections Holiday Parks’ own report, by an arborist, suggests that camping can continue in the park if managed.
Reflections CEO Steve Edmonds told The Echo, ‘The load cells are designed to take a point load and distribute it across a wider area which results in reduced compaction of the tree root systems. The combination of load cells, revegetation, reduced number of sites, less vehicles and smaller campervans and tents are all aimed at enhancing and improving the welfare of these trees.’
Edmonds did not address the question of whether the load cell trial would even be successful, given there is no evidence that this has worked previously.
Warren says, ‘Parking vehicles on load cells would be in conflict with the space required for the natural branch growth and maturation of any in-situ plantings.’
Edmonds said, ‘The Trust acknowledges and appreciates Ms Warren’s passion and concern for the southern end of Terrace Reserve. Unfortunately, Ms Warren is not qualified to make any value judgements about the proposed solutions. This is why the Trust has appointed two experts in the field to minimise and improve the quality of threatened species identified in the Southern Precinct. The Trust has appointed ArborSafe who have a long history in identifying and recording the trees in order to monitor their health. In addition, we have appointed Ecological Consultants Australia who are experts in the management and coexistence of threatened species in urban environments.’
Yet the Warren claims Appendix F of Reflections’ arborists report does not mention ‘the cumulative impact of human activity such as soil erosion, root exposure, mechanical damage from lawnmower scalping, tent pegging, guy rope damage, mulch removal by grass blowing, raking and mowing.’
In reply, Edmonds said, ‘Appendix F of AborSafe’s report is the aborists’ register of identified items for management within the EEC, these items are categorised on a low, medium, high risk basis which the Trust will continue to monitor, assess and manage as appropriate.’
Warren added the Trust is ‘proposing to cut branches, remove trees, retain infrastructure and cover natural soil surface with load cells’, and added, ‘The Trust has been unable to answer how in-situ plantings, that the Trust has agreed to, would naturally mature when such a process would be in conflict with the siting of load cells.’
Edmonds replied, ‘The implementation of this process will see improved health of existing trees on site, increased tree numbers and an overall increase of the area and condition of the Ecological Community.’
‘The load cells are designed to take a point load and distribute it across a wider area which results in reduced compaction of the tree root systems. The combination of load cells, revegetation, reduced number of sites, less vehicles and smaller camper vans and tents are all aimed at enhancing and improving the welfare of these trees. These proposed methods will further enhance the existing trees and bring in regeneration of new trees onto the site. The Trust is actively engaging Byron Shire Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is seeking to resolve a positive outcome so that camping activities can continue in the Southern Precinct, as they have done so for 40 plus years.
‘Byron Shire Council have been provided with a proposed site layout demarking the camping sites proposed to include the load cell installation and their proximity to the existing tree community. Product information of proprietary load cell systems available in the market were discussed with Council and community representatives in the workshop of the May 11, 2018.
‘The Trust’s proposal to Byron Shire Council includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Ongoing arboricultural inspections to monitor, assess and manage the EEC;
- A reduction in sites in the Southern Precinct;
- The introduction of revegetation and replanting underneath according to a proposed Vegetation Management Plan;
- The installation of a 10m buffer zone along the top of the estuary to increase the regeneration area, improve public access and amenity;
- The protection of root zones with a proprietary root protection system (load cells) where camping activities encroach into root zone areas;
- A reduction in the size of vehicles in the Southern Precinct down to camper trailers and tents.’