Thursday, May 30, 2024

Cairns council to remove much-loved fig tree

Cairns Regional Council has announced it will remove a much-loved fig tree in Freshwater later this month after the tree failed public safety assessments.

Assessments of the weeping fig tree at Richmond Park, estimated to be 60-65-years old, have been carried out by three arborists: Council’s senior arborist, an independent arborist and an arborist engaged by a concerned community member.

Council says the investigations found several widespread fungal infections throughout the tree. Two of the fungi are aggressive and incurable: Ganoderma sp. and Pyrrhoderma noxium, and will lead to the tree’s eventual death.

It says years of car parking under the tree has compacted the soil under the canopy, damaging the roots and affecting the tree’s health.

Due to the tree’s poor health, level of decay and structural constraints identified in the various reports, Council has determined that removal of the tree is the most appropriate course of action.

“It is always disheartening to remove any tree, particularly one that has such significance to the community,” Division 6 Councillor, Kristy Vallely said.

“In May, a large branch fell from the fig tree onto a parked car, and the extent of the tree’s decay became apparent.

“As a result, Council erected a fence around the tree to create an exclusion zone, Council’s arborist undertook a preliminary assessment, and emergency deadwood and crown pruning took place to make the site safe.”

The preliminary assessment identified concerns about the general condition of the tree and further resistograph, or drill resistance testing, was arranged to provide further information.

Council was contacted by the Stratford and Freshwater Community Association (SAFCA), with a request for their own independent arborist to assess the tree.

“We were happy to accommodate this request and took into account the findings of SAFCA report when deciding on what action to take,” Cr Vallely said.

“Council also commissioned an independent arborist, to conduct another comprehensive assessment of the tree.

“Both the Council report and that of the independent arborist, share the opinion that the tree is past the point of effective treatment.

“Given the tree is irrefutably in decline and deteriorating, it will likely continue to shed limbs until it finally dies, which is an unacceptable risk to the public.”

The exclusion zone at the site will remain in place in the interest of public safety until a public notification period is conducted and the tree is removed this month.

“This is a particularly busy area and without the exclusion zone it would be dangerous for the public to use the area,” Cr Vallely said.

“In the interests of public safety and to allow the community access to this area again, the tree will be removed.

“As I said, it is always disheartening to remove a tree like this, but I can assure the community that following its removal, a replacement tree will be planted in the park.”

The tree is scheduled for removal the week beginning 15 August, weather permitting.

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