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Significant tree register needed for Whitsundays

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THE NEED for a Register of Significant Trees in the Whitsunday region has been raised again, after a large mature blue gum tree was felled, on Friday, November 18.

The tree stood at the main roundabout, at the top of the Airlie Beach Main Street, and its eradication caused consternation amongst residents.

Councillor Jan Clifford raised the need for a significant tree register at the last council meeting of the year, in Proserpine.

Whitsundays’ neighbouring region of Mackay has a significant tree register in place, which aims to document and recognise the importance of significant trees on council managed land, and to guide their management and ensure their protection for future generations. 

As well as the tree register, Cr Clifford also suggested the need to strengthen the planning scheme to stop tree felling on development blocks.

“They just come in with dozers and clear everything and I don’t think that’s totally necessary,” Cr Clifford said.

“It destroys (animal) habitat and increases the possibility of land flooding because there’s nothing to catch it.

“We’re spending money trying to cool places like Proserpine, by planting trees, and yet we enable the mass destruction of vegetation.

“I’ve had people in tears over the felling of the tree on the corner of the Broadwater and Shute Harbour Road, including me, it was a beautiful tree.”

Director of Development Services at Whitsunday Regional Council Neil McGaffin said emotional responses to tree felling didn’t warrant protection.

“Just because someone gets emotional over the loss of a tree doesn’t mean to say that it meets the criteria where it’s protected by the planning scheme,” Mr McGaffin said.

Mr McGaffin followed on by saying the planning department would look into how many areas in Queensland had a significant tree register, and what problems they had and where the Whitsunday Regional Council could improve those problems.

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