A LARGE stand of pine trees on North Lake Senior Campus is being removed because Perth’s drying climate is killing them.
The water table under the trees—many are at least 30 metres tall—has dropped so far they are starting to topple. The WA education department is felling nearly all of them.
Students are banned from walking through the area because of the risk of falling branches, which is a relatively common occurrence.
Pine plantations once extensively covered the southern suburbs: more recentlty the remaining pockets have become important feeding grounds for endangered black cockatoos.
There’s some silver lining to the trees’ loss: Coolbellup’s Max Rhodes has spent the past month felling and milling as much usable timber as he can for the school’s woodwork department.
The school councillor is doing the work for free and says he can get through about 10 logs a day: what can’t be salvaged is left for locals to burn as firewood (we recommend cutting it and ageing it for at least a year first).
Mr Rhodes describes the trees’ condition as shocking. Weakened by the lack of water, many have had their bases colonised by black ants.
“If you look over there you can see what happens—when the wind blows the tree basically shatters at the base,” he told the Herald.
He’s aware of local concerns about the loss of birdlife but says the trees are simply too dangerous to stay.
by STEVE GRANT