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.
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.