June 21st 2008
Letter: Council lops Geoffrey Bay casuarinas
Following is a letter, Island resident, Rolf Petherbridge sent to New Townsville City Council with a copy to Magnetic Times yesterday.
I wish to register a formal complaint regarding an activity of Council employees. This activity was initiated, then temporarily suspended in response to our direct complaint, yet remains likely to be recommenced, and has already resulted and would, if continued, further result in the destruction of important and valued native vegetation and the natural aspect of Geoffrey Bay World Heritage Protected Foreshore.
A feature of Geoffrey Bay foreshore is the natural line of Casuarinas ("She Oaks") which grow along the foreshore at the top of the beach. This species is the dominant tree in this littoral niche in the dry tropics. Their natural growth form is spreading with the outer branches pendant and draping right down to the sand. This vegetation, which hangs down even into the water at high tide and provides a delightful dappled shade to the beach, is the predominant contributor to the characteristic appearance of such Queensland dry tropics beaches.
At approximately 08:30 this morning while walking Geoffrey Bay foreshore, my companion and I came across a Council team (the environmental work team we were told) setting up with chainsaws and beginning an attack on these littoral Casuarinas.
When we enquired what they were doing we were told by one (the female member who appeared to be the foreperson) that they had orders to lop the Casuarinas, an order made by their supervisor in response to a resident's complaint.
Just as she finished assurancing us they were only trimming the dead limbs, a large live limb, >3 metres long, of many branches and covered with leaves fell to the beach, sawn off by another team member.
This team member was able to justify his actions by quoting his written instruction which were to "remove the eye danger posed by the limbs". Were he to have carried out his instructions faithfully, all of the beaches Casuarinas would have had their lower limbs lopped to a height of 2 metres above the beach, savaging them and their natural growth form.
As a result of our strident objections the team halted this activity and relocated to another task but we were left with no assurance that it may not be resumed.
Council is responsible for the protection of the Natural Values of the Geoffrey Bay Foreshore.
Council is not responsible for dangers (real or perceived) posed by the natural environment.
It is completely unacceptable and inexcusable that the resources of Council's Environmental Team should be directed to such an activity.
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