Plans to remove three established swamp mahogany trees and cover the ground with bitumen for a car park upgrade in south-east Victoria has drawn criticism from locals, who said it was at odds with the local council’s declaration of a climate emergency.
- The three established swamp mahoganies are set to be removed as part of the upgrade of a boat ramp car park
- Locals question the local council’s dedication to its declaration of a climate emergency by removing the trees
- Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor Michael Whelan says that while the trees are native, they are not indigenous to the area
Bass Coast Shire Council and the Victorian Fisheries Authority have committed $ 675,700 to improve the Anderson Road car park at Cowes boat ramp.
But Wonthaggi resident Kevin Griffin said the council’s decision to remove the trees as part of the project did not “stack up”.
“I think the arguments for keeping them would outweigh those for removing them,” he said.
He said removing the trees was at odds with the council’s commitment to climate change mitigation.
“They could easily be managed, but the easiest solution seems to be to cut them down with a chainsaw, which just seems at odds with the [the mayor’s] declaration of a climate emergency and makes me question how sincere he is about this climate emergency, “Mr Griffin said.
Phillip Island Conservation Society member Geoff Nottle said he was concerned about the plan to use bitumen rather than a more sympathetic landscape design.
Trees to be replaced
Bass Coast Shire Mayor Michael Whelan told Bec Symons on ABC Radio Gippsland’s Breakfast program that not everyone realized some of the trees were classed as weeds.
“If we were going into this area to do real environmental rehabilitation, the mahogany swamp will be taken out anyway,” he said.
Mr Whelan said while the plants were Australian natives, they were not indigenous to the Bass Coast region.
“What we’ve done is reorient the car park, making sure we don’t take out the valuable vegetation, which is coastal vegetation, and the heathland, which is a full ecology,” he said.
He added that while it was not an easy decision to remove a tree, the council would plant other species over the next year that would more than offset the loss of the three trees.
The upgrade will include 20 boat and trailer car parks and seven other car parks near the boat ramp.
The mayor said the works would improve drainage and the quality of water in the western port, pedestrian access, and the ability to launch and retrieve boats.
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