Council rejects trees register

12. 23NEWSThe Hiller family is saddened that beloved specimens like this jacaranda are not considered good enough for a Fremantle tree register.

SIX tall trees in Hilton have been rejected as unworthy of inclusion on a Fremantle council register of significant trees.

The council had planned to create a new register of trees on private land but, unimpressed by the nominations, will instead use an existing database of significant trees on its heritage register to create a new register of trees on both private and public land.

The Hiller family of Hilton had nominated a 15m jacaranda which they say has, “one of the best tree houses in Hilton”. The other was a 14m silky oak planted on their Snook Crescent property by previous owners, and described as one of the best examples of silky oak in Fremantle.

The family next door nominated a 15m eucalyptus while residents in nearby Butson Street nominated a 20m rubber tree; Nicholas Crescent a 20m iron bark; and Rennie Crescent a 15m cape lilac which attracts black cockatoos: “I think it’s sad the city doesn’t have a proper register,” Alex Hiller told the Herald. “We inherited the cubby from the previous owners about four years ago.”

Council’s planning services committee on Wednesday adopted a report stating the six nominated trees were not significant enough for inclusion.

Instead, it prefers to use trees already on the city’s heritage list to create a register of significant trees and vegetation areas.

Committee chair Andrew Sullivan says this leaves the door open to including trees deemed by the community to be special and at most risk from removal or development.

But he says there is a fine line between public and private, with many people, “fearful of having their rights impinged on by council”.

When Nedlands tried to introduce a register in the 1990s, land owners started chopping down significant trees before they could be included. Verge trees belong to council.

Most WA councils use significant tree registers to protect unique examples of species based on height, cultural heritage and indigenous values.

Mandurah has an elaborate register established in 2008 and South Perth uses criteria set by the National Trust.

Fremantle’s parks and landscape team assessed each nominated tree in Hilton based on ecological values, botanical and horticultural importance, aesthetic values, historic importance and functionality such as serving as a wind break or screen.

The report to the committee notes if the council wants a more extensive register it could survey trees in all suburbs, but the cost would be substantial.

It says one way to avoid “pre-emptive” felling of trees by private owners is to include a tree on the register only if owners do not object.

“The potential downside of such an approach however may be that fewer trees are ultimately included in the register.”


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