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Byron Shire
May 18, 2024

MP calls for permanent protection of Brunswick Heads pines

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

Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens), is calling on the state government to take action to protect the iconic Coastal Cypress trees on crown lands at the Brunswick Heads Terrace Holiday Park.

Locals have long disputed the holiday park trust’s use of the area for camping and its claims the trees are being responsibly managed.

In the face of a recent report that claims some of the trees could be up to 400 years old, Ms Smith has called on the state government to, ‘step in and take charge of a fiasco that is unfolding in the holiday park’.

She has called on Lands Minister Paul O’Toole and Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton to step in and save the trees, and use Save Our Species funding to ensure their ongoing protection.

‘It is now clear that there has been historical damage to a stand of trees that includes some that may be 400 years old and many aged at least 200 years.  The Coastal Cypress Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) is identified in NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and must be protected according to the government’s own legislation. The Crown land park is managed by a State-appointed trust that intends to continue destroying and endangering this rare stand of trees,’ said Ms Smith.

A report undertaken last year by local ecologist, Dr Robert Kooyman, identified the value of the EEC and noted that the Brunswick trees represent a significant continuous stand of this poorly represented species and it is therefore critically important that it be protected and made recommendations for the ongoing management.

‘Dr Kooyman has advised that the most ecologically sound management of the area would include the removal of all camping and infrastructure in the south of the park and restrict all activities in the northern area as well as the removal of the bitumen roading to allow the Coastal Cypress EEC to regenerate. I support his professional position and encourage Byron Shire Council to do so also. I will also be raising with the relevant Ministers for Lands and the Environment the importance of this significant ecological area and call on them to comply with Biodiversity Conservation legislation to protect and preserve these rare and precious trees,’ said Ms Smith.

‘I will also be asking the Ministers to access the ’Saving Our Species’ funding to protect the trees. Providing protection and funding for the preservation of the Brunswick Heads Coastal Cypress EEC will be a State first, an initiative the local community and the state government can be proud to achieve,’ said Ms Smith.

‘The Coastal Cypress trees also have significance in the hearts and minds of many locals as they have long been regarded as a memorial park for those who lost their lives defending our country at war.

‘Whilst there was a belief that the trees had been planted as a sign of respect, Dr Kooyman has found that the original forest community had been damaged by the building of roads, creating a linear design to the grove of trees which appeared to many as a planted area.

‘Despite the fact that it is a natural stand, we should respect the history, tradition and intent of the dedication of these trees as a memorial site.

‘The survival and future of these trees holds both natural and cultural heritage values and must be protected. The NSW State Government will be put on notice that the community expects them to comply with their own legislation and protect what the community regards as precious,’ said Ms Smith.

 


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