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Plan to fell 'top echelon' 400-year-old Aussie tree axed

The tree has been saved, but now it faces a new 'battle'.

A proposal by a US multinational to destroy a 400-year-old Aussie tree has been axed.

Last week Yahoo News Australia reported Honeywell had applied for a permit to cut down an ancient river red gum in front of a building it managed at La Trobe University in Melbourne. But on Tuesday morning, the university said it will “work with Honeywell to invest in measures to preserve this important tree”.

The tree has at least 26 hollows that are home to native birds and mammals and arborist James Shugg has welcomed the university’s announcement, saying he was “delighted” but is also maintaining “a note of caution”.

The river red gum is known to pre-date white settlement. Source: James Shugg
The river red gum is known to pre-date white settlement. Source: James Shugg

Arborist reveals why pruning could further damage ancient tree

While La Trobe announced it has “has denied permission for the tree to be removed”, it is now examining “selective pruning”.

That’s a concern for Mr Shugg who has managed significant heritage trees in the state’s botanic gardens for over 20 years and he believes the eucalypt is among the “top echelon”.

“The battle is to make sure this tree is given the appropriate level of care that such a significant specimen deserves,” he said.

Rather than pruning it, Mr Shugg believes the best way to reduce the risk posed by the tree to people could be to simply fence off the small area it occupies. “It needs deeper investigation,” he said.

Reads 'What on Earth? Tree hollows used by endangered greater gliders only start to form after a tree reaches 100 years of age.'  A collage of foliage and a greater glider
Tree hollows used by endangered greater gliders only start to form after a tree reaches 100 years of age. (Yahoo)

“This tree can probably go on for another century or more if we get the management right now. Pruning can be antagonistic to tree health, and in some circumstances removing canopy might even increase the likelihood of breakage,” he said. “The university needs to engage an arborist who has the aptitude and experience to care for a tree that could be 400 years old.”

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