Council commits to retaining T5 tree on Cairns Library site

A fig tree at the heritage listed Cairns City Library site will be retained under a long-term proposal to rejuvenate the site.

The large fig tree located on Lake St, referred to as T5, was facing possible removal after years of decline.

This was despite extensive Council efforts over the past six years to minimise risks to the public and save the tree, including trimming, maintenance, bracing, fencing and other supports.

However, following Council’s successful flying fox relocation program in 2020, the tree has shown marked signs of recovery.

Deputy Mayor Terry James said that the community would be pleased to see the tree retained.

“This is a significant tree and Council was committed to exploring the feasibility of protecting and supporting the fig tree,” Cr James said.

“However, Council needed to be mindful of the trees condition and the risk to public safety.

“Like everyone else, I was pleased to see vibrant green shoots as the tree seemingly came back to life.

“It would seem that once the stress of having hundreds of flying foxes roosting in it branches was removed, the tree has been able to recover quite quickly.

“The outcome is one that I am sure will please the community.”

During its deliberations on the future of the tree, Council officers met with representatives of Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) and committed to reviewing the cost implications and practicality of any, and all, measures to protect and support the health of the tree.

Division 5 Councillor Amy Eden said she was delighted that the much-loved tree could be retained.

“Following an analysis of the tree’s improving health, we believe we have a solution that will allow the tree to be retained and honoured,” Cr Eden said.

“While the canopy has recovered post flying fox relocation, the internal structure of the tree is still compromised, and measures will need to be undertaken to minimise risks and support the tree to heal.”

“This will include the use of props to help brace certain branches until the natural arboreal roots are able sustain their weight.

“Interpretive signage will be installed to tell the story of the tree, complemented by a First Nations narrative that respects and acknowledges cultural heritage to tell the story of place.”

A fence will need to be retained to provide an exclusion zone beneath the tree’s canopy until such time the area is deemed safe for public use.

Cr James said Council would need to consider the size and structure of the fence, as well as how the surrounding area can be landscaped to improve the amenity, its ambience and future use.

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