AFTER more than 160 years of European settlement in Warrnambool, moves are finally under way to officially recognise public trees.
Although there are now more than 10,000 trees on road reserves and parks, there’s no policy document or budget allocation to maintain and protect species dating back 110 years.
Next month city councillors will be presented with a draft policy specifically to recognise the importance of maintaining plantations, including the iconic Norfolk Island pines first planted in 1903.
The National Trust describes Raglan Parade median strip plantations as outstanding and among the better examples in Victoria.
City infrastructure manager Glenn Reddick told The Standard there had never before been official recognition of trees in the council’s policy.
“We have about 10,000 trees in our road reserves plus many in parklands, but the only funding is for emergencies and power line clearing,” Mr Reddick said yesterday.
“Plus all new subdivisions have trees which council will inherit.
“We really should be setting aside specific policy and budget money.”
City councillor Jacinta Ermacora suggested some of the Norfolk Island pines on Raglan Parade would be stressed because irrigation had ceased under summer water-saving measures.
“Does our policy take into account the value of the tree asset versus water savings?” she asked.
“These trees haven’t been watered in summer for almost 10 years.”
However, Mr Reddick said he doubted that would be a major factor considering they were mature trees able to cope with climate stresses.
Mr Reddick blamed median strip car parks near Jamieson Street primary school and the former Fletcher Jones factory which have bitumen covering the root systems.
“These roots have nowhere to breathe and the cumulative effect causes the trees to suffer,” he said.
“Plus there are corellas pecking away and signs are nailed to trunks.
“Trees in Liebig Street with beds around the trunks are faring much better.”
Cr Ermacora called for wider community discussion on the value of public trees and what species were preferred.
“They are important to our heritage,” she said.
“It’s a shame we don’t have a plan for their future and a line in the budget to back that up.”
Old Morton Bay figs in Koroit Street are likely to be on the discussion agenda soon with suggestions for them to be replaced with Magnolias.
There are concerns about how the fig root systems are damaging footpaths, the road and property.