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All that remains of the trees that have been poisoned along the zigzag pathway above Main Beach, Yamba. Council staff determined that “the retention of the dead trees aided in the stabilisation of the bank; provided shelter to juvenile vegetation recruitment; and provided visual barrier/reminder of the tree vandalism”. Image: Geoff Helisma

Yamba’s trees succumb to poisoning

All that remains of the trees that have been poisoned along the zigzag pathway above Main Beach, Yamba. Council staff determined that “the retention of the dead trees aided in the stabilisation of the bank; provided shelter to juvenile vegetation recruitment; and provided visual barrier/reminder of the tree vandalism”. Image: Geoff Helisma
All that remains of the trees that have been poisoned along the zigzag pathway above Main Beach, Yamba. Council staff determined that “the retention of the dead trees aided in the stabilisation of the bank; provided shelter to juvenile vegetation recruitment; and provided visual barrier/reminder of the tree vandalism”. Image: Geoff Helisma

In 2013 Clarence Valley Council’s staff established that the dieback of trees at Flinders Park in Yamba was the result of actions by persons unknown; at the December council meeting, councillors decided what action would be taken to remedy the situation.
Seven of nine councillors, apart from Clrs Greg Clancy and Debrah Novak, resolved, as corporate managers of the Clarence Coast Reserve Trust, to “fell and leave on site the remaining dead trees”, and to “return a landscape plan to [the] March 2017 meeting, or sooner if available, with that plan detailing proposed vegetation layers and elevations”.
In making the decision, councillors rejected the council officer’s recommendation to erect warning signs – Vandalism of trees is a criminal offence –, which would have been removed once new trees had matured.
Councillor Richie Williamson argued that a sign would be akin to “punishment of the community”.
“Having a sign on iconic spots on the east coast is not the message to give visitors,” he said.
“The jury is out on whether they achieve anything.”
Councillor Williamson cited previous negative reactions to a similar sign erected at Minnie Water.
“I supported the sign at Minnie Water – and it was unanimous I think –, as soon as sign went up all hell broke loose,” he said.
The report to council noted: “Unauthorised clearing or poisoning of vegetation along the coast to create and/or maintain ocean views is common and Council has considered previous reports of large scale poisoning of trees at Diggers Camp, Minnie Water and Yamba.”
Meanwhile, at Flinders Park, the 2013 report noted that “soil and leaf tissue sampling tests … indicated the presence of chemical (herbicides); however, council staff were not able to ascertain the persons
responsible”.
Since then, the affected banksias, tuckeroos, and Norfolk pines “partially recovered” from the poisoning.
However, the tuckeroos have subsequently died and “several mature Norfolk Island Pines [are] displaying signs of stress possibly due to poisoning”.
The report to council advised: “This part of Flinders Park is a known slip area and it is intended to plant out the embankment area with seedlings (including but not limited to coastal banksia, tuckeroo, pandanus, coastal wattle) from the community nursery to … stabilise the embankment and to restore the environmental values of the reserve as identified in the Plan of Management.
“Consideration will be given to maintaining view corridors, as identified under the Yamba Street Tree Masterplan and Council policy, and … will also be taken into account in the design of the upgrade to the access of the [zigzag] pathway project that will be put on public exhibition over the coming months.”
Councillors voted 7-2 (as above) to apply the same principals to the tree vandalism that has occurred at the nearby South Head Park on Yamba [Lover’s] Point.

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