Tasmanian Times


Three significant Euc Globulus felled at Swansea Primary School

It would seem that Glamorgan Spring Bay Council’s processes, their tree policy and their duty to keep the community informed has failed.

Evidently the Arborist’s report on the health of the three Eucalyptus globulus in the front garden of the school, was only received and read by the General Manager after the trees had been removed.

Clearly there has either been a break-down in communications between Arborist, Head Master and Glamorgan Spring Bay Council’s General Manager; or the council’s processes for dealing with these matters.

I understand that the Head Master’s letter to the council regarding the health and future of the trees was written sometime in December 2009. Did the Head Master fail to pass on the Arborist’s report to council, or did the council fail to act on it?

It is apparent that the report could have been interpreted in a more sensible light, and a less drastic course of action taken. Pruning, fencing and a gradual reduction of the trees with replacement planting taking place would have been a less confrontational course of action with ultimately the same result.

It could be a reasonable argument to deem the front area of the school an unsuitable place for children to be playing — the area is not totally fenced, has no gates and has easy car access; possible intruders with unpleasant intentions are presented with no barriers. A play-ground behind the school, out of the way of trees and passers-by, could have been an alternative course of action.

Besides the serious repercussions that will involve the school children, there are the wider environmental implications. These I know have very little value to many, but given the increasing awareness of global climate issues, it is a point to be given serious consideration, that one person in a position of power can make a decision and act upon it, to the detriment of the environment and the community.

I am continually dismayed at council’s lack of concern, and lack of action on the issue of street trees; or any sensible, rational and coherent tree policy that is looking to the future.
It is very easy to say it is not my problem, and that I won’t be here; and that sadly is the general attitude, but it should not be the attitude of an enlightened council.

Sometime in the near future, cities and towns will be accountable for their carbon emissions, and it will be mandatory that it can be demonstrated that this can be balanced by their street trees acting as sinks or for sequestration.

Trees are major sinks of carbon, and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide for long periods of time. If a tree is chopped down the carbon is released into the atmosphere making matters significantly worse. The argument that ‘this was only three trees and they won’t matter’ is not relevant, every plant counts, they are the major players in the well-being of the planet.

The destruction of these trees goes further than the implications for the children and the residents of the town that cherished them. An entire ecosystem has been lost – the birds, insects and micro-organisms that sustain a healthy ecology.

Dismay is hardly an adequate word to describe how many in the community are feeling; personally I am shocked and totally disheartened that the council fails to deal with the tree issue with any sense or rationality.







Earlier On Tasmanian Times: One of the great criminal acts

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  1. Russell

    February 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Re #22
    Ohhh, diddums.

  2. Steve

    February 4, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    22; You appear to pushing a very strange barrow Mary.
    I, like many others attended a variety of schools, all of which had trees, all of which were eucalypts. I do not know of a single child being injured by a falling branch. I do however recall quite a few injuries, in one case a fatality, from cars.
    If it’s decided that a family of trees present an unacceptable risk, due to the risk of falling limbs, the answer is simple. Delineate the area of danger and make it a no go area for children. The occasional miscreant may slip in to retrieve a ball or something but that’s about all. If the teachers can’t enforce that sort of simple thing they might as well give up.
    In this particular instance the trees do not appear to be in a children’s area anyway.
    This argument may seem trivial but there’s far too many mature trees being felled on a whim. Years ago, felling was seen as a last option, I suspect principally due to the bulk of the mess that was created. Trees were pruned and topped to make them safe.
    Now felling is seen as the first option. I see too many properties where new owners move in. First thing…rip, rip, chainsaw. Trees that have been growing for untold decades, gone. Two years later they move out. Go somewhere else…rip, rip, chainsaw. Doesn’t take long to fell a tree, takes a long time to get it back. Logical result is a gradual reduction in the number of mature trees.
    By the way, Russell does have a point, relative to the time taken to grow a tree, children are quite quick to replace. And yes, I do have children, and quite possibly a clue! If there’s a one in a million chance that a child might be injured by a tree, should we fell a million trees to prevent it? I’ll play the odds and sit under a tree whilst I teach my children road safety!

  3. mary

    February 4, 2010 at 10:51 am

    #20 It is quite apparent that you don’t have children, or a clue really. I’ll leave it at that.

  4. Russell

    February 3, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Re #19
    Well summed up.

  5. Russell

    February 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Re #16
    Mary, Mary quite contrary how do your E.nitens grow?

    I see you didn’t question the ‘expert opinion’ given in #3 by someone also just looking at the photos (3 Iron pegs or nails at the base. This is just an observation looking at the photo. Do you notice he dark blue / grey spots on the log?).

    However, it is plain to anyone who’s even cut firewood (clearly shown in the second last photo) that this tree’s trunk and limbs were solid to the core and disease-free.

    Using your logic, Mary, we should cut down every tree that exists, just in case, but then again that’s the very view you always push on this site anyway.

    How many people were killed in our forests by falling limbs (apart from those trying to cut the tree down) this past year? How many people were killed on the roads? Shouldn’t cars and trucks be banned, Mary?

    How much did it cost to have the trees felled and taken away? The cheapest and most effective solution would be to have fenced them off (with KRudd’s school give-aways) and kept them for the life-giving, nurturing and educational role they played. The kids have already got a cleared school yard and oval there, haven’t they, like every other Australian school?

    Re #18
    “There is a world of difference between trees located in a school and those in a forest. These areas are frequented by children and parents, inordinate amounts of time are spent in and around school: there is no logical comparison.”

    Yeah?? You’re, living in Lala land, Mary. Trees are exactly the same whether in a school yard or in the bush. Don’t you think families take their kids into the bush, or do they leave them home “because it’s too dangerous?” Isn’t that also where they all play after school, if they can?

    And sorry, using your own flawed logic again, but to be perfectly honest just as trees can be replaced with another, so can human children. BUT, if things went your way and we cut the lot down, there would be no precious children at all, would there?

  6. Jess

    February 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    In response to 18, I see that there are 2 sides to the argument, but on the actual real site, there is enough room to fence off a huge area. It has not been set aside for buildings or other works, under the now defunct trees a huge native garden with boulders was planted and organised prior to this principal coming along.

    Children have a huge area to play in ‘away’ from that area.

    Children should not be in this public area anyhow… this part of the front of the school has an entrance to the school / public library and online access centre + a much used car park.

    Let’s hope this turns into a positive, for the school and the community.

    I hope everyone involved ‘learns’ from this experience.

  7. mary

    February 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I feel sorry for the principle if #16 is an example of the local community.

    No I do not hate native trees, in fact I have several planted around my home, that said I would not hesisitate to cut one down if I felt it was a risk to my family or home. It is a risk assessment and everyone’s assessment of the risk is different. You might be happy if your life and career were on the line, but then it wasn’t – was it now? The principle made the decision and it was his/her decision to make.

    There is a world of difference between trees located in a school and those in a forest. These areas are frequented by children and parents, inordinate amounts of time are spent in and around school: there is no logical comparison.

    The logic of the insurance in your argument is quite disturbing. Why would it matter how many $$ you got from life insurance or public liability insurance if your child was killed? Money cannot replace our precious children. Trees can be replaced.

  8. mary

    February 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Why did the the school pay $$ for an assessment when Mr Experts R’us Langfield can provide a risk analysis over the internet from a couple of photos?

    The principle assessed the risk, after all the principle is the person ultimately responsible for the safety of all on the school grounds and took action. As for a fencing you have got to be kidding, maybe fencing around the base of the tree would cost bugger all, but consider fencing some 25+ m out from the tree and perhaps further if you account for wind. Sorry kiddies can’t play there because the trees are more important, oh and there is no money for new library books because we need a tree pruner. Get Real people must be a slow news day.

  9. Moe

    February 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Like everyone I am dismayed that the beautiful trees in the Swansea school ground were cut down. I would like to see the details and any reports be made public.

  10. mary

    February 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    So if a branch had fallen from one of these trees and killed/injured a school child you’d be calling for the blood of the principle. However if he mitigates the risk by felling three trees, might not be the prettiest solution, but sounds like a sensible one. Eucalypts should not be used as shade trees for schools, even the healthiest trees can suddenly drop branches.

    For goodness sake the kids come before the trees, move their play area(!) – why not waste money for school resources pruning trees and relocating play areas so you can have your scenic view as you drive by. Interesting to see if you would put your hand in your own pocket to pay for your amenity.

  11. Russell

    February 2, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Re #12
    The exposed cut of the trees’ trunks and limbs show to me they were in pretty good condition and not about to drop.

    Who deemed them dangerous?

    Cost bugger all to put a fence around them all the same. Especially when KRudd’s been handing out billions to do just that.

  12. Red Bob

    February 2, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Does anyone want to find out the other side of the story of why the trees were cut down?

    Assuming they were judged a danger, then that danger absolutely had to be removed immediately, or at least before school goes back.

    Assuming it would cost more money to keep the trees but make them safe compared to removing them, can someone justify to me – as a parent or as a taxpayer – why that money is better spent on keeping a couple of trees than on the services the school is there to provide?

    I’m not holding my breath.

  13. Diane

    February 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Everyone in town that I have spoken with about this destruction is sad and angry.
    I would really like to know what was going through the principals mind when he made the decision to cut down the two ‘healthy’ trees.
    Too much hassle? worried about spending $?
    It’s the community of Swansea that has to look at this horror every time they drive around Swansea.
    Maybe all along the East Coast, we should chop down all the trees near people… Bicheno would look awful and so would Orford.
    But they might fall down?
    Maybe we should stop driving cars, traveling in buses, or stop swimming at the beach? Dangerous actions in some circumstances… where does common sense take over from ignorance and panic.
    There was enough space at the front of the school to have the area fenced off and used as an educational tool (you know… for the children’s education…)
    I would really like to get comments from the local lorikeets that will find another part of their feeding ground destroyed.
    I say NO community spirit was taken into account, one person made a decision that a community should have made.

  14. Russell

    February 1, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Re #7
    Three tiny seedlings do not in any way replace the decades of carbon stored and soon to be lost by the ones felled.

  15. Brent

    February 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    You make a good point. Trees do sequester carbon.
    The Glamorgan Spring Bay Council can demonstrate it’s ‘green’ leanings by planting three seedlings trees in the place of the fallen giants and thereby turn a public relations disaster into a publicity coup!
    Now there’s a lead for Gunns Ltd. Chop all Tasmania’s native trees down, chip and export them somewhere else and replace them with a manicured and mollycoddled monoculture.
    No global warming in our backyard!!

  16. Jo Wood and Peter Knight

    February 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    How can we be educating our children to find a better way to care for our planet and all its treasures when we do not demonstrate the behaviours we are trying to nurture in them?
    Jo and Pete

  17. Russell

    February 1, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Everywhere you go they are dropping trees which “might fall on someone.” Why don’t they get rid of all the frigging cars as well?

    No wonder we’re an ageing population in a world of climate change suicide.

  18. Dave Groves

    February 1, 2010 at 6:10 am

    This exercise was part of the forest industry “teach ’em young” program, where kiddies are “tuned in” to the methods used by the forest industry to reap short term gain, for a few elite barons.

    A timeless paradigm, fully supported by the Tasmanian Government.

    It’s a great educational tool, but toned down for safety reasons, in keeping with responsible forest management.

    Technically it is “clearfell”, but no explosives are used, and despite temptation, napalm laden choppers observe casually from a distance.

    A small “dozer” adds effect, while the boys are “chillin” after droppin’ a few bigguns.

    Kids will receive a certificate of observation, neatly tacked to a slice of tree, as a memento of this special event, and it will be presented by the minister for primary industries, and forest industry spin guru, in a special ceremony, to be held in the new “sawdust garden”.

    Bring a tear to a glass eye……

  19. Treehazards Nomore

    February 1, 2010 at 12:57 am

    T reckon the tree faller was nottoo happy cuttig through 3 Iron pegs or nails at the base. This is just an observation looking at the photo. Do you notice he dark blue / grey spots on the log?
    NAILS or metal Pegs / Tree Guards that were not removed way back when these BlueGums had been planted. Slack management!
    Safety first!
    Gums make no compromise, when someone would get hit by a falling branch, the damage and pain woul be a lot greater.
    So plant a real Oak or Linden / Lime tree and this safety problem would not be repeated.
    Just like that!

  20. Steve

    February 1, 2010 at 12:35 am

    The problem is that it’s easy to find an excuse to fell blue gums. Some of the eucalypt family are very prone to dropping large branches. My observations are that I wouldn’t camp, or park my car under such trees, however I walk comfortably beneath them. Seldom do branches fall like a bolt of lightning, there’s generally a bit of creaking first, enough to escape.
    Viewed as a risk though, what arborist will guarantee that the tree won’t drop a branch and if it does, no-one will be underneath? Logical conclusion; chop it down. No risk there!

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