THE WA main roads department has defended its destruction of a 500-year-old jarrah tree in Cockburn, on the grounds of public safety.
The tree, on a road reserve near Forrest Road in Coolbellup, happens to be along the route of the proposed Roe 8. It may have been alive when James I was on the throne but it didn’t live to see out Elizabeth II.
Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett describes the felling as “wanton destruction” of a “majestic tree”.
Following nearby residents’ complaints about the presence of a beehive, Main Roads commissioned an arborist to investigate.
The department claims the arborist deemed the tree to be a safety hazard as it had large, dry and dead limbs and there was evidence some had recently fallen.
“The tree was inaccessible to be able to both safely trim branches and remove/eradicate a large bee hive which was affecting nearby residents,” says a WA Main Roads spokesperson.
“The centre of the tree was dead along with the tree canopy. Because of the bee infestation through the dead trunk, no other wildlife could utilise hollows for nesting.
“The only sign of life were a few shoots sprouting from the base. The tree is not heritage listed or registered as significant.”
Ecologist Andrew Moore says the WA government identified the jarrah — in one of its own reports — as one of 12 significant trees in the area because it had more than five hollows and was a nesting site for black cockatoos.
“I counted around eight hollows suitable for nesting for ring-neck parrots, pardalotes and several other bird species,” Mr Moore says.
“Over the centuries this tree would have supported many generations of wildlife.”
Mayor Howlett says the decision to cut the tree down is “bizarre at best” and “reflects poor decision making at a time when trees of this stature and maturity are rapidly disappearing from our landscape and increasing the adverse impact on our flora and fauna”.
“The city will be seeking a full explanation from Main Roads WA and their contractor(s) as to why a tree needs to be cut down to remove a bee hive.
“Two hundred, 300, 400 or more years’ growth gone in minutes.”
by STEPHEN POLLOCK