Fighting for the life of the Lennox Head fig tree on Castle Drive this morning local fig protector Gory chained himself to the tree.
Since the ducks nest with seven eggs was was found on July 31 that led to a short suspension of the trees removal Ballina Council has proceeded to ‘cut down the other half of the tree exposing the nest the elements,’ according to local, retired planner, John Sparks.
Mr Sparks understands that Ballina Council is currently in the process of applying to the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) for the right to ‘destroy the wildlife that is in the tree’ and cut it down.
‘The council have also identified a beehive and WIRES have said that there will be other animals in the hollows of the tree but council won’t let our WIRES representative in to identify the animals there.
‘Relocating the duck nest will mean they won’t survive. If they just left the tree alone for 28 days the ducks and ducklings would leave the tree naturally.’
Ballina Shire Council have told Echonetdaily that they are not working at the site today so they are not aware of anyone being chained to the tree.
‘We are here as guardians of the tree until it is listed as heritage and council no longer have the option of chopping it down,’ said Gory via a message on the Caste Drive Fig Protectors Facebook page.
‘It’s been a peaceful day up the fig, the ducks flew out at 6.30am and the visitors soon started arriving. There’s been over 30 fig supporters so far, it’s been a revolving door of admirers and the birds are about keeping us company. So all good over here. Please come to the fig and share your concern, sign our petition and contact OEH Gabrielle Upton’s Office.’
Deputy Mayor Keith Williams has confirmed that council has received the OEH permission to remove the fig tree and the removal will continue later in the week.
Cr Williams said that after consulting with fellow councillors over the weekend there was no support to delay the removal of the fig tree.
‘I’m a wildlife rescuer, so protecting a nest is a reflex action, but for my colleagues it’s simply further delay in an already painful process.’
Cr Williams said the tactics used by some ‘fig protectors’ had backfired.
‘All Councillors, myself included, find the targeting of staff for abuse and baseless accusations of corruption totally unacceptable.’
‘I also have no doubt that all Councillors acted in good faith in what they believe is the best interests of the community. I believe we should have installed a robot barrier and sought alternative insurance, others believed that the risk of further legal claims was too great.’
‘This is not the sort of behaviour we should be accepting as a community,’ he said.
Cr Williams said he has now exhausted all avenues available to protect the 200 yr old fig tree.
‘We cannot save this tree, but we should learn from this experience and make sure the soon to be introduced Significant Tree Register for Ballina Shire protects our old trees and is supported with enough funding to pro-actively manage trees before problems arise.’