Investigations have been opened by Mitchell Shire Council officers into the poisoning of mature street trees in Broadford, Seymour and Wallan.
The vandalism has caused extensive damage and the trees are being tested to understand their condition.
In most cases, it’s not possible to save the trees and the costs associated with their removal will exceed $15,000 of ratepayer funds due to their size.
Damaged trees cause a significant loss of amenity, significant environmental impacts to the surrounding area and present a risk to the public due to their rapidly declining health.
There is also risk of unknown poisons being used.
There are additional costs associated with the subsequent tree removal in re-establishing the landscape through re-plantings.
In most cases, poisoned trees will be replaced as close as possible to the removal site to ensure the landscape is reinstated adequately.
Council will have no hesitation in prosecuting offenders. There are significant fines and additional costs for reinstatement may also be recovered by council.
Council’s long-term strategy is to increase canopy cover within Mitchell Shire, which supports the need to retain large existing trees wherever possible.
Council recognises the need for increased tree planting within streets and parks.
Council is working with Council Arboriculture Victoria who is always investigating ways to mitigate the poisoning of trees, with a focus on education around the benefits of trees.
Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said it beggars belief that there are environmental vandals in Mitchell Shire who wish to destroy the very reason people want to call the shire home.
“We simply can’t afford to lose tree canopy unnecessarily in the era of a changing climate,” he said.
“There is absolutely no excuse for this behaviour and while it is often very hard to establish a case in these circumstances, the community can be assured our staff are doing what they can to prosecute offenders,” he said.
“The communities can assist in stopping this vandalism by advising council if you notice anything suspicious.
“Surely as a community we have a responsibility to take pride in our place. Council goes to great effort to give the community a sense of pride by providing street trees.
“We all play a part in keeping our place keen and green. This latest case of vandalism is very sad.”
Anyone with any information regarding poisoned trees are encouraged to contact council on 5734 6200.