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7 August, 2022

Freshwater fig tree to be removed for public safety

Council will remove a much-loved fig tree in Freshwater next month in the interest of public safety.

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. 

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. 

Due to the tree’s poor health, level of decay and structural constraints identified in the various reports, Council has determined that removing 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 give more information. 

The Stratford and Freshwater Community Association (SAFCA) contacted the Council 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. 

“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 in August. 

“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,” Cr Vallely said. 

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

Council acknowledges the tree is loved and invites residents to share messages and memories of about the tree. Share your story, drawing, photograph or any questions, via email or phone Council on 1300 69 22 47. 

Messages will be kept in a register by Council and shared with the Stratford and Freshwater Community Association.

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