By Colin MacGillivray
A DOREEN man has voiced his disappointment at the removal of more than 100 trees in the Laurimar estate, claiming the City of Whittlesea went overboard with its program.
Geebung Place resident Paul Adams opposed a council plan to remove about 140 trees from Woodstock Drive, Sparrowhawk Road, Harlin Street, Geebung Place and Sheoak Street when residents were notified in December.
The trees were slated for removal over fears they could undermine building foundations and cause property damage.
After consultation with residents, council decided to keep the existing trees on Harlin Street and the northern end of Geebung Place in January.
Mr Adams said council had recently completed its tree removal program and had begun planting replacement species, but said more trees were removed than initially shown on the council’s plan.
He said several trees in a small reserve at the corner of Geebung Place and Woodstock Drive had been cut down, even though council plans showed them being retained.
“There were five trees at the southern end of the reserve and the council plan showed them retaining four, with one to be removed,” he said.
“They removed all but one tree … so now we are left with one gum tree on what I call ‘Lone Gum Reserve’.”
Mr Adams said the removal of so many trees had caused a loss of habitat for native wildlife, and questioned the choice of species to replace the lost gum trees – primarily silver myall and wilga.
“The trees there were no threat to anything – they weren’t near any property, but now that they’ve been taken out the wildlife has missed out,” he said.
“The replacement trees won’t grow to a height of more than about three metres, so they’re not going to provide the same canopy coverage.
“They are deciduous trees, so they’re going to be pretty bare for large parts of the year and don’t provide any habitat for wildlife.”
Council chair administrator Lydia Wilson said officers had worked closely with residents to ensure they were satisfied with the tree replacement and retention program, conducting extensive engagement in December and meeting with residents.
She said 131 new trees would be planted in place of the 103 trees that were removed.
“Affected residents were provided options for replacement street tree species via a survey and the results of the survey were provided back to residents and formed part of the planting schedule,” she said.
“Some residents requested additional trees and these requests have been accommodated where practical. Council also engaged a zoologist to provide support and direction relating to birdlife and other fauna impacts.
“Although three trees within the triangular park at the intersection Geebung and Woodstock Drive were initially identified as remaining, further inspection by the arborist found that two of the trees had limb failures and were therefore removed.”
Mr Adams said the removal of the trees had fundamentally changed the character of the neighbourhood.
“It looks pretty desolate down there now,” he said.
“I think it was all about having a risk-management strategy. Council has had a couple of cases against them and they’re just showing the white flag, and it’s at the expense of the biodiversity that they claim to support.”