Locals divided over plan to save 'last tree left' on Aussie street

A bitter debate has erupted over the 15-metre gum tree on a Perth street with council voting to have it removed.

Locals have been eager to save the gum tree on the residential street, which is on the verge on a property, while others want it removed.
The 15 metre tall gum tree has caused tension among the Alexander Heights community. Source: Google Maps

A gum tree on the verge of a resident's home is causing bitter disagreement among locals, with some who live close by pushing to have it removed while others advocate for it to stay.

Eleven residents who live on Cordelia Place in Perth's Alexander Heights sent a request to the local council to have the 15-metre tree removed from their street, providing 12 reasons why its removal was in the best interest of the community in a petition to the City of Wanneroo council.

Among the reasons were claims the tree is "too large and unsightly" for the street with its roots disrupting walkways and driveways. Bird droppings landing on parked cars underneath has also proved problematic to residents, according to council notes. They also claimed its presence had the "potential for property values" in the street to be diminished.

However, thousands of locals have signed an online petition for the tree to stay, believing "every tree matters" to lessen Urban Heat Island Effect (UHIE) in the area — a phenomenon which raises the temperature of a suburb due to insufficient tree coverage. UHIE is linked to heat-related illnesses in a community.

According to the council report the suburb has a total canopy coverage of only seven per cent, with the international standard being a minimum of 30 per cent. It has been suggested the gum tree would be replaced by another native plant.

The council arranged for an arborist to survey the gum tree in question and found the mature tree "in good health", noting it has a "fair structural condition" and displays "a full coverage of healthy foliage".

The arborist also noted the gum tree represents a "tolerable risk to persons and property". However, despite the report, last month the majority of councillors voted to have the gum tree removed.

Responding to Yahoo's request for comment, Wanneroo Council confirmed it received the petition calling for the tree's removal in February 2024 and says it is "committed" to maintaining the tree and improving the council area's overall canopy coverage.

"Administration undertook an investigation and determined the trees were in good health and could continue to be managed in accordance of the City’s Street Tree Policy," a spokesperson told Yahoo.

"At its 23 April Ordinary Council Meeting, Council considered the petition and voted to carry an alternative motion supporting the removal of one of the trees.

"The City is committed to improving its canopy coverage and will replace the tree with a suitable species as part of its 2024 Tree Planting Program."

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