01 August, 2012

Ashes to ashes or a nightmare on Elm Street?

Well, neither just yet.Further to my post last week "Time for a tree change?", I think it is time for an update on the elm/ash trees along the Barwon in Newtown. Today - 1st August - the local papers are trumpeting the news: the trees have been granted a temporary reprieve from getting the chop.
Elm and ash trees along the Barwon live to see another day
The Advertiser ran with the headline: Barwon River trees win reprieve. The Geelong News declared on page three that the "Trees are still standing" and the Geelong Times put on a double-paged pictorial spread with the headline: "CoGG* v CCMA in battle of the elms" which was quick to point out not only the current issue, but to highlight the value of all trees to humans and animals alike. The Independent however, could only muster a two paragraph note on the issue, tucked away at the edge of page three.
So why all the fanfare? Well, the community rally held on-site at the week-end saw a petition signed by some 640 people, making it clear to the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) that there was significant community interest in the issue. White bands were tied around the trunks of the trees to indicate "hope". Earlier during the week at a council meeting, a motion was tabled by Councillor Stretch Kontelj moving for a halt to the trees' removal until their historic and cultural significance can be determined.
The trees with their white bands
Whilst there is no heritage overlay on the trees, it is questioned whether they may have historical connections to the former City of Newtown which may have been instrumental in their planting. It was noted that the CCMA's Barwon and Moorabool River Reserve Masterplan and Management Plan for the Barwon and Moorabool Rivers (published 2006) included the retention of similar non-native species a short distance upriver at Queen's Park. And the Barwon (Through Geelong) Management Plan indicates that the trees should be maintained with an underplanting of native trees which would eventually replace the ashes as they die. The key points of the report including a graphic map can also be viewed here.
Stand of non-native trees near Queen's Park Golf Course
Councillor Kontelj has proposed that the trees be moved to a heritage register to ensure their protection for the future. He is also campaigning for the support of local politicians. The motion was unanimously supported by council and as a result of these initiatives, the CCMA have agreed to postpone any action until a resolution has been reached.

* For those not in the know, CoGG stands for City of Greater Geelong.


  1. The Barwon (through Geelong) Management Plan states that the Avenue of trees in Fyans Park were also meant to be retained and managed long term like the established exotics in Queens Park. Interesting.

  2. The trees are not natve and are detrimental to the environment!

  3. But you're missing the entire point of the argument. The REPORT says to RETAIN the trees. RETAIN. If CCMA can cut them down regardless, doesn't that indicate a big problem within the Management and Board at CCMA? Are they not accountable for their actions? Do you, Anonymous, as a supporter of an all indigenous flora not see a problem with this situation regardless of the trees? This is an abuse of power and trust. Time to look at the broader issue here and stop being so narrow minded.

  4. another anonymous03 August, 2012 15:51

    I think the point of our anonymous friend here is that the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority has a brief to restore the health of rivers across the region. Exotic trees in a floodplain landscape unfortunately have a detrimental impact on the native fungal and faunal assemblages in the riverine environment, due to these systems having not evolved with this sort of vegetation, but rather in the presence of native tree species that shed leaves sparingly across the whole year and have a particular chemical make-up. Much of the decline in the health of our rivers can be sheeted back to catchment management, including the clearing of native vegetation, a reduction in the permeability of the land in the catchment and increased populations of invasive woody weeds. A complete return to a pre-European environment is an impossibility, but to return some of the health to the river and its floodplain, it is appropriate, particularly in the case of the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, who's charter is river health, to use their legislative authority to implement their broad-scale state-funded environemtnal programs.

  5. I agree with the Anonymous consensus!

  6. Anonymous Three05 August, 2012 18:30

    If you knew what trouble Ash tree saplings cause along the river banks, spread by water probably from mature trees, ... and the efforts needed to get rid of these unwanted young plants aappearing among the reveg indigenous vegetation ... you might be against having so many non-indigenous plants along the river. Have you tried to remove in one go a single Ash sapling that is over 50cm high? Not easy at all. It takes time, effort and money to remove self-sown exotic plants along the river-side parkland. Time, effort and money that could be better spent in more indigenous revegetation. If you want to see exotic trees, go to Eastern Park and elsewhere. There are few parklands in Geelong where wildlife has reasonable indigenous vegetation to reverse/stop the decline in native Biodiversity.

  7. again, the point is completely missed.

  8. In fact I think it’s you Anonymous (7th August 2012 9:36am) that is missing the point completely.

    The trees in question here were not actually identified in the GoGG Management Plan to be retained at all. It only refers to a percentage of the Ash and Elm trees upstream of the Queen’s Park Bridge to be retained, with the comment “removal and revegetation is beyond he scope of current budgets.” Hardly a convincing argument to hang your hat on!! Basically, it’s saying if there is budget available, out come the weeds......

    And even if the report did recommend retention of the upstream trees, it has little to no relevance to the Newtown trees without a performing a separate assessment on them. Some people need to get a clue about how to interpret Council reports correctly and stop thinking there’s always a conspiracy theory behind every decision made by Local and State Government Departments.

  9. Anonymous 9th August, you obviously have NOT read the full report. It's completely weird you defend an organisation who does not follow their own reports. Numerous times the report mentions SPECIFICALLY the avenue of trees in Newtown Park. It boggles me that people like you defend an organisation who treat residents like idiots, ignore their consultant's recommendations and act like cowboys. Read the report for goodness sakes.

  10. Anyway, the disagreement isn't with COGG, it's with CCMA. Read the Barwon (through Geelong) Management Plan. No conspiracy theory there my friend. It's all in black & white. You're obviously reading something completely different. Read the right one.