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Byron Shire
December 6, 2021

Holiday Park managers push for camping around damaged protected pines

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Terrace Reserve camping which, residents say has contributed to the protected trees dying off. Photo Sean O’Meara

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.’

Not qualified

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:

  1. Ongoing arboricultural inspections to monitor, assess and manage the EEC;
  2. A reduction in sites in the Southern Precinct;
  3. The introduction of revegetation and replanting underneath according to a proposed Vegetation Management Plan;
  4. The installation of a 10m buffer zone along the top of the estuary to increase the regeneration area, improve public access and amenity;
  5. The protection of root zones with a proprietary root protection system (load cells) where camping activities encroach into root zone areas;
  6. A reduction in the size of vehicles in the Southern Precinct down to camper trailers and tents.’

 


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5 COMMENTS

  1. The person’s name is Patricia Warren. Please show her the respect of using her proper name rather than referring to her as though she were some kind of proprietary product. Additionally one has great difficulty in imagining how some kind of load sharing device would not exchange a temporary obstruction for a permanent obstruction augmented occasionally by vehicle and camper weights. No amount of name changing can disguise the odor that surrounds the North Coast Holiday Parks. Reflections indeed. Surely we should be reflecting on what wwe have lost by their actions.

  2. The only thing anywhere near those trees should be tents. It’s an outrage they should even consider the monster shown in the pic parking on top of the root system like that.

  3. The Trust’s aborist’s report, Appendix F is highly informative. It identifies a number of behaviour that have led to the current health and structure of the 148 coastal cypress pines in the southern area of the Terrace. Cites are such actions as soil compaction, root damage, suppression, mechanical wounding, poor pruning, wounds, ‘previous failures’ and wounds.

    The Trust is stating that it is not removing any of the coastal cypress pines. In Appendix F pages 28-36 the following trees are cited for removal: Nos 43, 44, 108, 184, 192, 232, 234 and 235. This adds up to 8 Trees being considered for removal are Nos 92 and 123.

    The Trust may well argue the removal of these pines are the arborist’s recommendations. As such, they don’t have to be acted upon. However, the Trust is pinning its use of the southern area on the arborist’s recommendations.

    The conflict is between the Trust’s and Council’s consulting ecologists. The Trust’s ecologist is supporting the arborist’s recommendations and ignoring the conflict in those and her own report to achieve an economic agenda. The Council’s arborist is concerned about the protection of a listed Endangered Ecological Community.

    Councillors decision on Item 13.14 will give a signal to the Trust on which way it is leaning in the Trust’s application for an Approval to Operate and the future position of the southern area of the Terrace.

  4. Responding to NSWCHPT comments:

    An issue of credibility.

    (i) on 29 January 2015 when the Memorial Pines were being ground truthed, Arborsafe’s map of the location of coastal cypress pines did not correlate with what was in the physical world and had to be put aside. This was noted in the report done by Fox and Warren and sent to the Trust, Council and OEH. Instead, the Trust’s surveyor’s map, accessible in the 2014 POM was used. Sites identified on that map correlated with pines in the physical world. Using a highly conservative methodology, only 106 coastal cypress pines were identified as the possible remnants of the Memorial Pines. Any pines that appeared as been regenerated were not included in the report.

    (ii) in other comments herein you will find further evidence of why Arborsafe’s report is questioned

    (iii) Arborsafe’s report completely omitted any other species associated with an EEC that exists in the southern area and provides no programme for them.

    (iv) Arborsafe’s report identifies 105/115 coastal cypress pines in its body but the Appendix F identifies 148. Thus any protection for 43 is omitted yet they will be exposed to soil compaction and in all likelihood ongoing maintenance such as mowing which has been responsible for ‘root scalping’.

    As for the Trust’s ecologist’s report
    (i) at the 11 May meeting is was clear it was in part a ‘cut and paste’ and admitted as such
    (ii) there is conflict between what the ecologist has recommended in keeping vehicles out of the area under ‘Access Control’ and then turns around and supports Arborsafe’s recommendations to have registered vehicles in the southern area.

    The issue about the southern area isn’t dependent on Arborsafe but the conflict between Council’s ecologist and the Trust’s ecologist. The former is about protection of an Endangered Ecological Community(EEC), the latter’s recommendations of Arborsafe’s report is, in my opinion the end game for the EEC
    The Trust states that its “proposal to Byron Shire Council includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    1. Ongoing arboricultural inspections to monitor, assess and manage the EEC;
    2. A reduction in sites in the Southern Precinct;
    3. The introduction of revegetation and replanting underneath according to a proposed Vegetation Management Plan;
    4. The installation of a 10m buffer zone along the top of the estuary to increase the regeneration area, improve public access and amenity;
    5. The protection of root zones with a proprietary root protection system (load cells) where camping activities encroach into root zone areas;
    6. A reduction in the size of vehicles in the Southern Precinct down to camper trailers and tents.”

    COMMENT: 1. The Trust’s compensatory plantings of 20 coastal cypress pines plantings along the post and rail fence of Brunswick Terrace was, according to the Trust, to be monitored by outsourced licensed bush regenerators. It didn’t happened and the ongoing demise of respective seedlings was emailed to the Trust commencing Dec 2014. By 2017 the majority of those seedlings had died and had not been replaced. In 2017 there was replacement and additional compensatory plantings done. If Arborsafe was responsible for that then they have introduced grevillias and bottlebrush into an EEC community. I am unsure if there are the species that would be found in such a colony. Since those new plantings, all 3 of the bottlebrush have died and there are at least 2 pine seedlings that are showing signs of dying…..summed: Leopards don’t change their spots as proposed in this new approach to have ongoing arboriculture inspections….unless of course they are skinned and dyed

    2. The Trust illegally encroached into the far southern end of the Terrace and installed a toilet block 2007/08 as a ‘temporary amenity’. There was no POM at the time and represented a continuation of the illegal encroachment into the southern area as recognised in council’s minutes 14 June 1988!
    An independent assessment report…accessible on BSC’s website for 9 August 2012, identified all sites and their non-compliance. In the southern end there were camping sites less than 40sqm. This is the minimum size under the LGA for a camp site with the vehicle parked elsewhere. The assessment report gave independent evidence on what we were aware of been the overcrowding of the area. Reducing the number of sites they want from 38 to 30 ignores the history as a foreshore flora and fauna reserve and then public resting place i.e. foreshore parkland in what we are now all aware of is protected under legislative listing as an EEC.

    3. There are major problems with Arborsafe’s report.
    ( i) It is relying on Terram Geocells within the Structural Root Zone and Tree Protection Zone. The most relevant part of the product description on these reads:

    “Although Terram Geocell can be used by traffic in isolation for a very limited period when filled; it is not advised that Terram Geocell is used as the permanent surface finish for vehicle access routes
    .

    The above points go to the credibility of Arborsafe’s proposals as endorsed by the Trust.

    4. I am pleased to see a 10m setback “along the top of the estuary”….not sure if this is something other than the top of the riverbank. The reason I’m pleased is that at the stakeholder meeting 29.6.17 the Trust had reduced this to 7m along the foreshore in the southern area.

    5. Load cells are the underpinning of the Trust’s proposals and are controversial. Some arborists I have spoken to would not recommend or have abandoned them. Those arborists are divorced from the issue and the area being on the Central Coast or in Brisbane. See also, comment above on load cells

    6. reducing the size – these camper trailers are coming in at 2.2tonnes which I would strongly suggest are now heavier in weight than the caravans that used to be around when they were, through an act of parliament, banned commencing 1978 from the foreshore at Ferry caravan park! Even their ecologist has recommended in the section dealing with ‘Access Control’ that vehicles only have drop off/pick up and not parked in the southern area. Their ecologist’s report is in conflict with Arborsafe’s report wherein load cells are proposed to allowed for parking. Yet the ecologist has then supported Arborsafe’s recommendations.

    COMMENT: Illegal use of the southern area has incited continued outrage. Anything about improving the health of the trees is inconsistent with the continued use of the area as part of the commercial operation of the caravan park for ‘camping’.
    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.

    COMMENT: Appendix F is more than that categorisation…..it gives detail about the damage to the trees that can be largely attributed to human activity. There are 34 low risk trees,102 medium risk and 12 high risk, one of which is URGENT. There is a proposal to remove 8 trees including a juvenile and consider removing another 2 trees.

    Of the 148 identified trees other species in the EEC have been left out of Arborsafe’s report

    COMMENT: Apparently unknown to the Trust, was that Brunswick Terrace was 30m in width. This meant that over 50% of the contentious southern area was made up of Council’s road reserve. In May 2012 the Crown compulsorily acquired over 4,000sqm of the road reserve. Such an acquisition does not automatically make it part of the caravan park. That requires a POM. The compulsory acquisition took, along the major part of Brunswick Terrace, a 13 to 14m strip of the former road reserve into the Crown Reserve leaving the council’s road reserve to be 16 to 17m in width up to the amenities block near Nana Street. However, the compulsory acquisition has still left the amenities block near Nana Street non-compliant. Under the LGA it should be setback 10m from the road reserve. It isn’t by any stretch!!!!

    COMMENT: Arborsafe’s Appendix F nominates 8 coastal pines for removal and 2 to be monitored for removal.
    The EEC in adjoining residential areas is called FRAGMENTATION and is not conducive to the regeneration of the EEC

    COMMENT: Blast, must remember I’m not qualified to make value judgements!

  5. Why can’t people just be happy and let families enjoy holidays at a location that they have been coming too for years! This caravan park has been here for years and now all of sudden local/residents want to ruin this.

    It is a shame this has happened, many families are now suffering because of this drama.

    I know one local in particular wants this park shut down so they can have more view of the river!

    Shame on them!

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