Council decision to protect community safety

Redland City Council has moved to protect community safety by granting permission to remove a large Cook Island Pine that has been declared unsafe by an independent arborist report.

Council’s city planning and assessment spokesperson Cr Julie Talty said while Council recognised the tree’s significance and had previously voted to retain its Vegetation Protection Order (VPO); ultimately they had to act in the interests of community safety.

“The arborist report found the tree is unsafe and recommended it be removed as it poses an unacceptable risk, so for Council to have this information and not act on it would be irresponsible,” Cr Talty said.

“Council has previously commissioned several expert reports into the health of the tree, as well as funding pruning and maintenance works; so we would have preferred the tree remain protected but at the end of the day we have to take the advice of the arborist and act on it.”

Cr Talty said it was during the Council funded pruning works that the arborist found a large cavity extending more than half the tree with the presence of White Rot Fungi that has the potential to compromise the structural integrity of the forty metre tree.

“A White Rot Fungi infection in this species of tree places an infected tree in an unpredictable state with a higher probability of failure,” she said.

“The arborist report concluded that the damage to the tree combined with its proximity to houses and a children’s playground meant it was an unacceptable risk, so Council has granted permission for it to be removed.

“The report suggested that if the tree had been in a different location without the potential consequences on properties it may have been recommended it remain, but at the end of the day it is in a suburban area so we must take that into account.

“Also because the tree is on private land, Council has no power to maintain or monitor the tree’s health, so our hands are tied and under these circumstances I believe Council has no option but to allow removal of the tree.

“The arborist report also concluded that the cavity which is approximately 10 metres off the ground had likely existed in the tree for many decades.

“Council has spoken to the property owners about the presence of an Osprey nest in the tree and at today’s Council meeting the property owners confirmed they are committed to ensuring the Ospreys in the tree are not harmed. 

“It appears the Osprey nest is currently vacant and Council will prepare a report to examine options for relocating the vacant nest in line with relevant legislation prior to the Osprey breeding season.”

Division 1 Councillor Wendy Boglary said while Council recognised the community and environmental significance of the tree, in the end the arborist report left them with no choice but to grant permission to remove it.

“We have spent time and thousands of dollars trying to save this tree and it is regrettable we have to lose such an iconic part of the Redlands,” she said.

“Council has done all it can to protect this tree, but in the end the specialist arborist report left us with no choice.

“I thank the community for their passion and understand their attachment to this iconic tree, our focus now must be the safety of the Ospreys.”

Council will now advise the owners of the tree, who will be responsible for the cost of removing the tree.