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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Lennox fig tree taken down

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The stump that is left of the once beautiful 200 year old Moreton Bay fig on Castle Drive Lennox Head. Photo Facebook.

To the great sorrow of a wide section of the local community the fig tree located on Castle Drive, Lennox Head was removed yesterday.

Around half a dozen people were there in the morning along with Gory who was chained in the tree.

‘We told the police “we are here to protect the tree and the rights of nature,”’ said activist and retired town planner John Sparks.

Protestors pleaded with the police and council to at least allow the work to be held off until the duck eggs located in the tree had time to hatch, which takes 28 days.

WIRES had explained to Ballina Council the unlikely chances of survival for the ducklings if the eggs are removed.

The Moreton Bay Fig tree on Castle Drive, Lennox Head that was removed yesterday. Photo Jenny Grinlington

However, the council had been given a ‘License to Harm’ from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith had received a letter from OEH dealing her request for extra time for the fig tree to allow the duck eggs to hatch. The letter from the OEH declined to recommend an Interim Heritage Order (IHO) for the fig tree.

The Heritage Division said in its letter that ‘without the support of the local Council to assess its heritage significance and consider listing as a local heritage item on its Local Environmental Plan, an IHO would be ineffective and is thus not appropriate in the circumstances.’

Tamara Smith said: ‘I have tried everything within my power over the last six months to save this 200 year old tree but the Office of Environment and Heritage has rejected our request for more time.’

When police and council arrived to remove the tree protestors asked if they could see the license to harm and council workers had to return to council offices to locate the order so that they could show it to the community members.

Police recuse squad

Police rescue were required on site with a cherry picker to remove Gory from the tree and cut his chains.

‘The police then took him to Ballina police station,’ said Mr Sparks.

Ballina police have confirmed with Echonetdaily that Gory was released with no charges.

Surrogate nest

‘When they took the eggs from the tree we asked if we could photograph them but they wouldn’t let us,’ said Mr Sparks.

‘They have taken the eggs up the back to put in a surrogate nest they had located but we are not allowed access. Just after they had removed the eggs the mother duck came flying back to the tree.’

Tamara Smith pointed out that ‘When nature has zero rights in our culture and environmentalists have no rights to stand up for nature under current Liberal-National government laws this is what will keep happening.’

Rights of nature

According to the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) under the current environmental laws the tree  is not able to be the plaintiff (a person who brings a case against another in a court of law) in Australia.

‘We are looking to change the environmental law so that the rights of nature are recognised,’ said Mr Sparks.

Now the tree is gone ‘we are trying to thank the tree for being the catalyst’ that is, spurring on the castle fig tree protectors to look into ways to legislate for the protection of nature.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. And so it is, the total reflection of why this world has to re-align! Two people buy a house with a crack, and their house starts cracking up due to roots of a tree, that is 3x older than the life span of a human. Arrogant, selfish self interest, threats of law suits, money, loss….and it weighs more than a grand manifestation of nature’s power and longevity. This grossness of human nature has to stop. Humans are nature, and Gaia and nature support our very life.

  2. What A Travesty!!!! The whole story is so sad. The photo of the stump breaks my heart. Surely something else could have been done! Really? Is this the solution??

  3. Utterly disgraceful!
    Council had rules preventing the house being built so close to the fig yet failed to enforce them!

    Just watch this space… The precedent has been set!
    I bet in the next 12 months the two figs in Victor Place will be under threat!

  4. This is yet another sad symptom of what’s happening globally on this precious planet. That money, profits, property and possessions are more important than wild creatures, indigenous cultural heritage, soul life and old, old sacred trees.

    I know I’m not alone in feeling deep grief at the decision to remove yet another ancient tree from our embattled environment.

    Sure, I understand people don’t want cracks in their home, but there were other options available. So so sad.

    🙁

  5. A sad and pointless tragedy, wrong, bad, stupid, arrogant, ignorant. When will these life gobbling greed mongers give up their deluded belief that they are separate from nature. The Office of Destruction of Heritage and Environment is a travesty.

  6. If the Greens brought in legislation that allowed members of the community to prevent the removal of any one tree or natural site, expect widespread disinvestment, destruction of our capacity to provide good infratructure for a healthy and enjoyable life, and high unemployment and lower wages. Our capacity to fund and sound assessments and investments in environmental protection and ammelioration, would be limited, and social and environmental infratructure like animal welfare measures like good road fencing, and health and education facilities, would be endlessly delayed or stopped.
    David Wright and Ballina Council are to be congratulated for taking a more balanced approach to the needs of humans, ducks and fig trees.

    • Nah mate, the story was that the “development” could go ahead because it wouldn’t harm the tree. Clearly, the development was all wrong. Turns out, developers lie. So, logically, the street must be destroyed, the developers locked up. Some of us love our country. Time we began demolishing bad buildings, and locking up bad “developers”. Move to Hong Kong, you’ll love it.

  7. What a disgusting act of Vandalism to one of natures beauties. The council has not listened to the Community one little bit and will feel it in the public backlash from this day forward !! Environmental Terrorists

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