Hands off our trees

Monthly Chronicle - - News -

The num­ber of tree species now safe­guarded against il­le­gal re­moval has dra­mat­i­cally in­creased af­ter Hornsby Shire Coun­cil passed new reg­u­la­tions last week.

These mean the num­ber of tree species which can’t be touched with­out Coun­cil ap­proval have shot up from around 130 to 60,000.

“This is great news for ev­ery­body who val­ues our ti­tle as the Bush­land Shire and wants to see our im­pres­sive tree canopy pre­served,” Mayor Philip Rud­dock said.

“Pre­vi­ously the pro­tec­tions only ap­plied to a list of tree species that were na­tive to Hornsby Shire. Now all trees are pro­tected, ex­cept for a lim­ited list of species con­sid­ered to be weeds or a haz­ard.”

How­ever tree campaigners feel that Coun­cil hasn’t gone far enough and that more needs to be done to pre­vent de­vel­op­ers from harm­ing the shire’s tree pop­u­la­tion.

“What has been passed is a good start, a scaf­fold­ing,” Asquith tree cam­paigner Alexi Boyd said. “But a fine for re­mov­ing a tree from a build­ing site is no more than a slap on the wrist to these big de­vel­op­ers. We need to do so much more.

“We were dis­ap­pointed there has been no ref­er­ence to de­vel­op­ment sites in the new reg­u­la­tions - I think Coun­cil is wor­ried about the con­tri­bu­tions de­vel­op­ers make to their cof­fers.

“Here in Mt Co­lah and Asquith we’re in the mid­dle of a big de­vel­op­ment phase and we need to see tighter reg­u­la­tion around trees on these sites where flats are go­ing up.”

She said that in­cor­rect species of trees are be­ing re­planted af­ter trees on build­ing sites have been lopped, only to be ne­glected and left to die. “We can see this hap­pen­ing from our own back gate. The Coun­cil’s Gen­eral Man­ager has said these changes were suf­fi­cient but we don’t be­lieve they will tackle this huge prob­lem.”

Penal­ties ap­ply for re­mov­ing or dam­ag­ing trees that are pro­tected by the Tree and Vege­ta­tion Preser­va­tion Con­trols. Se­rial or size­able of­fend­ers face heftier fines in the Land and En­vi­ron­ment Court.

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