Bark comes off in coun­cil trees war

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Alexis Gill­ham alexis. gill­ham@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

TOWNSVILLE City Coun­cil has stepped up the war on the African ma­hogany, the shal­low-rooted tree top­ping a hit-list of species the city wants re­moved from nurs­eries.

But an Idalia busi­ness­man has hit back, say­ing that block­ing the sale of plants d e e me d r e s p o n s i b l e f o r much of the in­fra­struc­ture dam­age from Cy­clone Yasi was im­prac­ti­cal, and that ed­u­ca­tion was the an­swer.

Fol­low­ing Cy­clone Yasi, Townsville’s streets were choked with up­rooted trees.

The African ma­hogany, golden rain­tree, two species of pink tabebuia and the for­est blue gum were blamed for the bulk of the dam­age, as pow­er­lines were brought down and as­phalt ripped up through­out the city.

Coun­cil­lor Vern Veitch said he wor­ried for peo­ple’s fu­ture safety if the trees were not re­moved.

Botanist Dr Greg Calvert will visit the city’s nurs­eries in the next four to six weeks to dis­cuss the is­sue.

‘ ‘ We’ v e i d e n t i f i e d f i v e species of trees that have done nearly half the dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture or have had ma­jor struc­tural dam­age them­selves in Townsville,’’ Cr Veitch said.

‘‘ We are go­ing to go to the nurs­eries and ask them to come on board and not sell those species of trees.

‘‘ It’s the re­spon­si­ble thing to do.’’

He said the coun­cil would ini­tially put the re­quest to the nurs­ery own­ers, but if they weren’t happy with their re­sponse, the process would have to be re­viewed.

Cr Veitch said he had cam­paigned for a num­ber of years to have a grad­ual re­place­ment of these large, shal­low-rooted trees, list­ing African ma­hoga­nies as the num­ber one concern.

‘‘ Peo­ple plant these trees be­cause they are re­ally big and grow very quickly, but they are shal­low-rooted, top heavy and it doesn’t take a lot for them to blow over,’’ he said.

But Harry Wilschef­ski, owner of Idalia’s Day Dawn Nurs­ery, said he didn’t think pre­vent­ing the sale of these trees was the so­lu­tion.

‘‘ I’ll ad­mit there is a prob­lem but the real prob­lem is that peo­ple are plant­ing the wrong plants in the wrong spots,’’ he said.

‘ ‘ Are t hey go­ing t o go around to all the mar­kets and Woolies and stop them f r o m s e l l i n g A f r i c a n ma­hoga­nies too?

‘‘ It’s the same as them stop­ping car deal­ers from sell­ing a mo­tor­car to some­one who is un­der 18 – you can’t put a blan­ket state­ment on some­thing like this.’’ TOP OF HIT-LIST: An African ma­hogany falls over pow­er­lines in Harold St, West

End af­ter Cy­clone Yasi struck last month

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