Coconut cull causes a stir
A DISPUTE is brewing between Daintree residents and a scientist determined to eradicate coconut trees along the Cape Tribulation coastline.
Dr Hugh Spencer, who runs the Australian Tropical Research Foundation in Cape Tribulation, admits to ‘decapitating’ juvenile palms across Far North beaches despite not having a written permit from Douglas Shire Council.
His actions are causing a stir north of the Daintree River with reports of altercations between the former university lecturer and upset locals.
It comes five year’s after council ordered him to stop poisoning palms along tourist beaches using Roundup.
The has been contacted by residents who claim there is evidence of the herbicide still being used in Cape Tribulation. Dr Spencer vigorously denied the claims.
“I have not been using Roundup on coconuts. I haven’t done that for years and years,” he told the
“I have been decapitating juveniles using secetares and a saw along council land on the esplanade.
“There are some people making it their issue to make as much fuss as possible.”
Dr Spencer believes Daintree beaches will be overrun by “invasive” coconut palms if they are not controlled.
Council chief executive officer Mark Stoermer will travel to the Daintree in coming weeks for a meeting after receiving written complaints about Dr Spencer’s activities.
Gerry Nagle, who runs the Coconut Beach House, said he had instructed guests not to crack open coconuts and drink their milk on Coconut Beach.
“I’m encouraging my guests not to do that because they could potentially be poisoned,” he explained.
Mr Nagle said trees were planted on his land without permission. “I’ve ripped them out,” he said.
“Council have caught this guy in the act and he admits to doing things all the time, but instead of penalising him they just say ‘please don’t do that’.
“He openly admits it and says it’s on council’s behalf. He is emboldened.”
Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu was reluctant to comment but confirmed a permit was required to remove vegetation from council land.
“Council is aware of the complaint,” she said in a statement.
“As we are in the process of investigating it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this time.”