26 July, 2012

Time for a tree change?

Trouble is afoot and controversy is brewing on the banks of the Barwon.
Over the last week or so, a furor has erupted over the by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) to remove 15 elm and ash trees which line the river bank in Newtown near the bottom of West Fyans Street.
Elm/ash trees by the Barwon listed for removal
The removal, which constitutes part of a larger plan by the CCMA to improve the health of the Barwon River through Geelong, has been on the cards for some time and is planned for some time in August. The CCMA have already removed a number of trees along other sections of the river from Princes Bridge to Landy Field but as far as I could see none formed part of an avenue of trees and their removal seems to have gone unremarked in the local media at least.
As with any disagreement, there are arguments for and against both view points. Those who argue in favour of keeping the trees point to their aesthetic appeal, provision of recreational shade, historical association with the Geelong community and that their removal will leave a significant gap in the treescape for quite some time. They also indicate a lack of community consultation on the issue.
Leaflet produced by Save Barwon River Trees group
The other side of the debate argues that introduced species of trees contribute to the degradation of waterways, potentially causing riverbank erosion leading to loss of habitat for native fauna; an increase in the nutrient levels of the water contributing to more frequent blue green algae outbreaks; and are able to propagate further by the movement of seeds downriver. Conversely, replacement with native trees will eliminate these problems and provide additional habitat for native fauna. To that end, new native plantings have been installed - one gum tree for each of the elms which is to be removed.
Existing ash/elms with newly-planted eucalypts
I have not investigated the issue in any great detail, however I have yet to see any indication of exactly how much of a problem these particular trees are.
Following is a list of articles and webpages which I have located at this point:
  • Those who are against the proposed removal have set up a page on Facebook (where the debate appears to be raging) at the following address: Save Barwon River Trees
  • There is also a link to a petition calling for a halt to the proposed felling: Petition
  • This morning on the 26th July, the Geelong Advertiser ran the following article: City Hall goes into battle to save elms
  • The Geelong News of Wednesday, 25th July covered the issue on its front page, The Independent which arrived in my mailbox today, dated 27th July carries a small article on the topic on page 5 and I believe that the Geelong Times also printed an article on the 12th July.
  • The CCMA has the following article: Improving the health of the Barwon River
  • Whilst this report on management of the Barwon through Geelong by the CCMA may also be of interest: Barwon (through Geelong) Management Plan
Happier times: the trees in April, 2011
And on another note for those interested, I gather that the Save Barwon River Trees group will be holding rallies and community days on-site this week-end between 10am and 3pm.
Note: my subsequent post on the topic can be read here.


  1. CMA = Cathment Management Austhority

  2. Sorry, Catchment Management Authority !

  3. The Barwon through Geelong Management plan indicates that expert & community consults recommended and agreed to a long term management plan for those trees which indicated the trees were to be removed when they became unhealthy. CCMA had numerous consultants mention the possible significance and community value.