A developer behind a new block of homes in the Brisbane suburb of Taringa has responded to community outrage over the felling of a tree scheduled for this week, after locals scrawled "fig tree killer" and "you killed me" on a notice about the removal of the decaying plant.
A local resident told Yahoo News he was concerned about the fate of the tree on the Oakman Residences site, which he claimed "most definitely" started to die after the property was acquired.
"Our body corporate met with the developer maybe 18 months ago to discuss the trees being cut down on the property," the man explained. "There were a number of gums that were planned for removal, and others that were 'spared'.
"During the preparation of the land, however, even the ones that were spared were cut down," he claimed. "I believe the line was that they were too unstable to be left standing because of the changes to soil around them. The outcome is that the trees were cut down, and now the construction site is essentially barren, all bar a few trees lining the border between the property and Oakman Park."
Developer denies poisoning tree
However, the developer of Oakman Residences, Cameron Feltham of Feltham Property Group, appeared taken aback when he was told of the resident's concerns, explaining that he's a qualified environmental scientist and that he'd gone to great lengths to save the tree and engage with the community.
Mr Feltham maintains that no trees were removed illegally, highlighting the fact that the local council has already signed off on the development's Vegetation Protection Permit. He also says the company employed a fauna spotter for all tree clearing and provided Yahoo News Australia with the report.
Mr Feltham further explained that an independent arborist had found "established decay" in the tree and also found that the decay was already occurring "prior to works commencing on the site". Mr Feltham was forthcoming in providing these reports to Yahoo News Australia and said he remains committed to replacing the tree with a mature specimen of the same species.
Brisbane Council responds
Adam Allan, Brisbane City Council's Civic Cabinet Chair for City Planning, also put the tree removal down to extensive decay, with council forced to act on the arborist's finding that the declining health of the plant posed a reasonably high level of risk to public safety.
"A cracked tree trunk and extensive decay over at least three years means a tree at Taringa will need to be removed. The removal of any tree is always the last resort, but we will act on the advice of expert arborists and always put the safety of the community first," Mr Allan told Yahoo News.
Mr Allan also confirmed that the tree will indeed be replaced with a mature ex-ground tree of the same species. "A tree of the same species will be planted in the area as soon as possible," he said.
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