Thursday, April 25, 2024

Bass Coast policy to tackle tree vandalism

Bass Coast Shire Council has endorsed a new policy to provide a stronger response to illegal vegetation damage.

The Foreshore and Bushland Reserves Vegetation Protection Policy 2021 replaces the Vegetation Damage in Reserves – Procedure for Action 2008.

Council says the new policy provides a stronger, formal policy to address unauthorised vegetation damage on Council-managed foreshore and bushland reserves.

Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Michael Whelan said the policy clearly communicates Council’s commitment to protecting vegetation on the public land it manages.

“Since European settlement, only around 10 per cent of Phillip Island’s indigenous vegetation remains and much of this is in coastal reserves. This vegetation is vitally important for the conservation of our natural heritage,” Mayor Whelan said.

“Coastal vegetation also plays an important role in providing habitat for native animals, stabilising sand dunes and protecting nearby houses and roads from the elements.

“The natural character of our coastline is one of the most cherished assets in our region. It is up to all of us to try and protect it.”

Recently, Council erected a sign at the site of tree vandalism on the Cape Woolamai foreshore to remind residents that interfering with vegetation on public reserves was illegal.

Mayor Whelan said the latest vandalism at the location added to previous damage spanning a number of years.

“If people think they will get away with destroying vegetation on public land by cutting a bit here and a bit there, they need to think again,” he said.

“Officers will investigate all suspicious activity, including lab-testing leaf samples for evidence of herbicide use. While we are building a case for prosecution, offender’s attempts to clear a view or path will be thwarted by large, unattractive signs.

“The sign is big – it’s three metres high by three metres wide and we put it up as a further deterrent to tree vandals. Any views that might have been gained by destroying those trees are now ruined by the large sign.”

The Mayor said the site will be replanted with indigenous coastal dune plant species and the sign will remain in place, until the replanted vegetation is well established.

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