Butt out of our trees: Gerroa protesters

Between 30 and 40 protesters set up camp along Gerroa Road yesterday morning protesting against the removal of trees they said provided valuable habitat to the endangered greater glider.

Shoalhaven City Council has received black spot funding to widen Gerroa Road at the intersection with Beach Road and plans to remove a number of trees, including the "Bum Tree" along the edge of the roadway.

Members of the Gerroa Environmental Protection Society have unfurled two glider possum banners near where the clearing is due to begin.

The group said the clearing of the trees for road safety, including a number of large blackbutt trees, some reported to be 400 years old, would have serious ramifications for the endangered greater glider that had a colony in the area.

Group members maintained there were alternatives to removing the trees alongside the road to improve safety, including lowering the speed limit, but said Shoalhaven City Council had failed to listen to the community's concerns.

Yesterday morning contractors were doing clearing work in bushland on the edge of the western side of the road, but at the Shoalhaven Heads end of Gerroa Road.

Gerroa Environmental Protection Society spokeswoman 20-year-old Jessie Holder said the group intended to protest until Shoalhaven City Council listened.

"They're not paying attention to anyone," she said.

"The amount of people here shows how passionate everyone is - we have been here all weekend, the support of the community and the amount of beeps we are getting from passing motorists in support has been amazing."

She said council plans to remove 147 trees were completely unjustified.

"The removal of trees will not improve safety, revising the speed limit is the issue," she said.

"The road is not safe and that is why council says it is clearing it; surely revising the speed limit would make it safer.

"I think it's disgusting Shoalhaven council completely disregards community consultation.

"I live in Gerroa, this is in our backyard, it is a beautiful national park. It is where we live and why we love living here."

She said the greater glider community was declining, especially in the area where the clearing work was planned.

"We've got a little bit of habitat still left and we hope to keep it that way," she said.

"It is a corridor they can swing between and if you cut that off, how will they get from one side of road to the other?

"It's its own natural bridge."

The protection society's president, Warren Holder, said protesters had no plans to disrupt the work.

"We are here with our signs to get public support, and to watch and observe the work," Mr Holder said.

He said he believed the state government had the power to intervene and stop the work from going ahead.


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