Friday, March 1, 2024

Lake Macquarie investigates illegal tree removal

Lake Macquarie City Council is investigating the illegal removal of four mature coastal banksias from dunes at Swansea Heads.

Council’s Manager Environmental Systems, Karen Partington said the four trees, thought to be up to 100 years old, were chainsawed some time in the past two weeks, potentially to open up the coastal view for nearby residents.

“This is abhorrent, brazen behaviour that has destroyed mature native vegetation,” she said.

“We unfortunately deal with occasional incidents where people poison trees illegally, but it’s unusual for someone to go to the length of chopping them down entirely.”

The stand of banksias destroyed in the attack are set back into the bush some distance from nearby homes, but Ms Partington said they were the tallest specimens in the area and were therefore the most likely to obstruct views.

“It’s important to note that no-one owns a view. Growth of native vegetation in places like this is a sign of a healthy ecosystem – not a red flag for people to take to it with chainsaws.”

Council officers have inspected the trees, placing signs in the area urging anyone with information to get in touch. Brochures with the same message were letterbox dropped to nearby homes.

People caught deliberately destroying public trees face a $3000 on-the-spot fine, or a penalty of up to $110,000 if the matter goes before the courts.

“We’d like anyone with information to get in touch with us – confidentially if necessary,” Ms Partington said.

“We believe the trees were removed on or after Saturday 20 January. If anyone saw or heard any suspicious chainsaw activity in the area at that time, we’d like to know about it.”

Anyone with information should call 4921 0333.

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