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Byron Shire
October 25, 2021

Cut it down – Tweed Councillors at odds over future of forest red gum

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The forest red gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) located next to Freckles Early Childhood Learning Centre in Tweed Heads West. Photo Aslan Shand.

The forest red gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) has been there longer than the Freckles Early Childhood Learning Centre in Tweed Heads West but the impact of the ibises who are roosting there at night are leaving their deposits on the ground. While this is entirely natural for the birds it has been a cause of concern for the Childcare Centre and Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase (conservative) put forward a Notice of Motion (NoM) at last Thursday’s Council meeting (18 February) to have the tree removed.

While Cr Polglase acknowledged that the tree had been there before the childcare centre and that the ‘25 page arborist report was full of jargon’ that he didn’t understand he felt it should be removed at the cost of the Freckles Childhood Centre.

He told the council meeting that the community’s awareness has increased in relation to public health issues and the virus and that there were concerns that the Ibis poo could potentially make a child sick. He also noted the risk of limbs of the trees falling on parked vehicles.

‘We should be active and take the tree down,’ Cr Polglase told the meeting.

The forest red gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis). Photo Aslan Shand.

Lights, wind, action

An amendment was put forward by Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) and seconded by Cr James Owen (Liberal) to ‘investigate the treatment of the ibis with lighting and try to deter ibis from roosting in the tree’ according to Mayor Cherry.

Both Cr Owen and Mayor Cherry both highlighted the magnificence of the tree.

‘The forest red gum is a magnificent tree at 1.6m in girth. The arborist report shows the tree is of exceptional health with less than one per cent of [dead/decayed] in the crown. I went with an open mind. I thought could be in bad condition. I really want to find a solution that addresses the issue for the early learning centre but doesn’t require the removal of the tree.’

Cr Owen thanked Cr Polglase for bringing the issue to the councillors attention and that he had been working on the issue with the childhood centre for over 12 months.

‘The primary concern [from the childcare centre] was the Ibis,’ Cr Owen told the meeting.

‘This alternative [motion] seems a possible way to go. I have been down several times – I haven’t seen any fallen branches. I have seen a lot of ibis droppings… Chopping the tree down is a last resort though it may be what occurs further down the track. I think it is a sensible approach to protect such a magnificent tree.’

Councillor Katie Milne sought that the investigation of wind spinners as well as lighting as a way to deter the ibis from nesting in the tree. She pointed out to the council that the forest red gum is a ‘is a primary koala food tree and important seed dispersal.

‘We have been advised there is minimal health risk with the tree. We have to have a policy, and we do have a policy, and we should abide by our policy’ pointed out Cr Milne.

Cr Polglase responded highlighting that this would add to the council’s costs rather than shifting the cost to the childcare centre as he had proposed. Cr Allsop pointed out that the removal of the tree would come with five compensatory plantings.

The amendment was carried with Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes, and Crs Allsop, and Polglase voting against.

For now the tree will remain – but if the attempts to disperse the ibis fail it will once again be in line for removal.

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  1. I wonder… If the tree was there before the childcare centre, surely the ibises were there too… maybe the childcare centre should be the one that gets removed…

  2. It’s not the tree’s fault. If you really want to solve this grave and potentially life-threatening situation, just massacre the ibises, although not during Freckles hours.

  3. How stupid can it get….in Europe communities are planting as much trees as possible in public places in cities and here some environmental berserkers want to cut them down…..Ibisses are the reason…..I remember our world environmentalist David Attenborough and he said if we want to change the clima, every tree counts…..Ibis poo, like any poo is good for kids. How to build physical strength and resistence against illnesses in a total unnatural treefree desinfected surrounding.
    It is a young healthy tree…..luckily with Ibisses…..

    • Ideally not! The Queen of Castle drives demise has gone on to protected 1000’s of other trees. May common sense prevail!

  4. The sound of health and safety is the next best thing to actual safety. Maybe you should have to travel through hostile environments on your journey throught this, with hard work and education leads to fortitude both physical and psychological. Surely they have received alert of immanent poisoning via ibas poo as the major source of contaminants i wonder if they have an actual scientific study into ibis droppings and have based thier actions on solid information or just as seen as doing the right thing with no real effect on anyone?

  5. People can be so precious! Don’t park under it if it is such a problem for people! If we cut down every tree that had birds in it there would be no trees left! What about when they congregate on power lines you have the same problem, maybe the power lines should be moved also. It’s just poo for heaven’s sake! 🙄

  6. May Tweed Shire Council take on board the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities that Byron Shire adopted in 2019. This give nature and trees rights.
    This beautiful gum has been here longer than probably most of us. When do we start to look more deeply than a quick fix and really appreciate what nature gives us. This stunning forrest gum is aesthetically gifting to us every day, home to the birds, no doubt other species, a koala feed tree and shade for the children and cars. See beyond bird droppings step up and give nature the honour she deserves.

  7. I have a Brachychiton Robustus that is only 25 Years old….Cr Polglase bring your chainsaw my way……p.s ,are any of the children at the childcare related,perchance?


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