Kiama moves to protect trees from vandals

A new policy on planting trees in Kiama’s council reserves and other public places will be developed as vandal attacks on trees at a reserve in Kiama Downs continue.

Last week, 140 people attended a meeting at the Kiama Downs Surf Club to discuss a revised plan of management for Jones Beach and Cathedral Rocks reserves, which is likely to go on public exhibition at the end of March.

Multiple trees in the reserve at the south end of Jones Beach have been poisoned and hacked in recent years, including a 30-year-old Norfolk pine. The council has reports that another tree in the reserve was poisoned this week.

Residents have expressed fears the attacks may worsen under an apparent shift in the direction of the council, with staff recommendations not to allow trees to be removed from private land overruled by councillors in recent times.

Kiama council has a draft of its revised tree preservation policy on public exhibition that would exempt more trees from previous controls including local wattle species. Submissions close on January 31.

On Tuesday night, councillors endorsed a working group to help form a policy on planting trees in reserves,  addressing issues such as street  planting, what plantings are appropriate and ‘‘provision of view sharing principles’’.

Kiama Downs residents have expressed concerns the council is not doing enough to prevent the attacks on trees.

Suggestions such as placing a banner blocking views as Shoalhaven City Council had done at Jervis Bay were put forward, although last week Shoalhaven councillors voted to remove its banner after a threat of legal action by the owner of a property that had its views blocked. 

Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler assured residents the council itself had no plans to remove trees from reserves and was working to protect them.

‘‘There were suggestions we should put banners or shipping containers in where trees had been poisoned, but the council has successfully taken legal action in the past so we have runs on the board in that regard,’’ Cr Petschler said. ‘‘If we can get the evidence, we are happy to take the action required.

‘‘The position we’ve taken is we would much rather work with the community  to take ownership of the area.

‘‘There is also a fair degree of work to be done in regards to the removal of weeds and lantana that infest parts of the area.’’

File picture.

File picture.

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