Investigations are underway after 9 forest red gum eucalypts planted as part of Council’s Shoal Bay Foreshore Upgrade project were poisoned in an act of vandalism.
Port Stephens Council Mayor Ryan Palmer said that a number of the red gum trees that were planted along Shoal Bay Road during upgrades in October 2021 are now facing removal after they were deliberately poisoned.
“The destruction of public trees is a selfish act that has lasting impacts on the wider community, public amenity and most importantly the local environment,” Mr Palmer said.
“The Shoal Bay community is shocked and upset by the vandalism of these young trees. These red gums were planted as part of a broader landscape plan with the vision of creating a visually appealing, shaded area, by the water for all to enjoy.
“Vandals who poison community trees disrespect everyone in the wider community who value our natural environment,” he added.
Council staff received reports from the community that the trees were in ill health and follow up soil testing confirmed that the trees had been poisoned using a Tricolpyr-based poison.
Group Manager Development Services Steven Peart said that in the past, trees across Port Stephens have been poisoned in a bid to create or retain views.
“Trees in public spaces are an important part of the Shoal Bay foreshore creating shade, helping to moderate high temperatures, creating habitat for birdlife and storing carbon,” Mr Peart said.
“Council is committed to replacing the poisoned trees and will work with the community to do so,” he added.
In line with Councils Tree Vandalism Policy, signage will be installed at the site and residents will be notified in writing with a request for anyone with any additional information to come forward.
Individuals who’ve been found to vandalise trees can be fined up to $3,000 through a Council issued infringement notice or taken to court for further prosecution.
President of Shoal Bay Community Association Chris Bastic says the poisoning of trees is a bold and deliberate act, that the community can help prevent.
“We urge the Shoal Bay community to work together and report any information to Council to prevent further vandalism of our precious trees. Trees are for everyone to enjoy, not for people to selfishly poison for their own benefit,” said Mr Bastic.
Council is investigating the poisoning, however currently there isn’t any evidence to pursue prosecution.
Anyone with information is urged to come forward. If you can help, call Port Stephens Council on 4988 0255.