An end to tree losses

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Let's work together: tree campaigner Alexi Boyd and Hornsby Mayor Philip Ruddock are joining forces to reduce the amount of tree canopy loss in Asquith and Mt Colah.
Let's work together: tree campaigner Alexi Boyd and Hornsby Mayor Philip Ruddock are joining forces to reduce the amount of tree canopy loss in Asquith and Mt Colah.

Tree campaigners fighting to save further loss of trees in Hornsby Shire are holding Hornsby Council to a series of measures it agreed to at a crisis meeting.

Following a story in the December edition of The Monthly Chronicle and survey findings revealing the Bushland Shire has suffered 60 hectares of canopy in the last 12 months, Hornsby Mayor Philip Ruddock and five councillors met with Mt Colah tree campaigner Alexi Boyd to listen to the raft of concerns locals have over destruction of the natural canopy.

What came out of the meeting was a series of measures Council agreed to, including “any developments or strata that are reported by citizens as being non-compliant – either through the destruction of trees illegally or the incorrect method of replanting to replenish tree stock – will be dealt with by Council’s compliance department,” says Ms Boyd. “Hopefully the issuing of fines can begin.”

Tree species has been another significant  issue. Frequently, lost ones are being being replaced by species inappropriate for the area, including Jacaranda. “The council will re-examine the suggested species of trees used in replenishing stock, taking into consideration the fauna which uses those trees as habitat and food. Tree species which are non-indigenous to this area will no longer be correct stock.”

Turpentine, angophora and silver gum are native to the area, making them popular replacement suggestions.

A site of particular concern was the parcel of public land bordering Pacific Highway and Mills Avenue, where several trees circled by tape appeared to be earmarked for an indeterminate action. Residents have been told that “any trees on council land are not going to be destroyed or lopped.”

It appear the red and white tape on these trees and many more in adjoining Asquith Oval, relate to a tree audit by a developer building a seniors development next door.

She added that the meeting “showed that this new council truly believes in the importance of keeping Hornsby as green as possible. Hopefully through the efforts of the Mayor and Councillors and concerned citizens, we can build the Bushland Shire back up to its former glory.”

Mayor Ruddock said at the meeting that he would head to his contacts at State Government level, to discuss the rejuvenation of significant species lost from government-owned land around Hornsby station.

“I believe these action points will go a long way to addressing peoples’ concerns about the changing nature of the suburb in which we live – provided the issue is not just another talkfest.”

The NSW Government’s 10/50 laws are a major factor in the recent increase in tree clearing. “There’s also much that Council can do to strengthen tree protection,” said Mayor Rudock.

“Council staff are currently investigating options and will report to Council in the next few months.

“Meanwhile we’re seeking public comment on a plan to amend the Hornsby Development Control Plan so all trees are protected, except those that are considered weeds or hazardous. At the moment only trees that are native to Hornsby Shire are protected.”

He added:“This is one of those universal issues that everybody can get behind – we all want more trees in our Shire. The only challenge is to find the most practical ways to achieve that.”

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