Queenscliffe’s historic Avenue of Honour trees are unlikely to last beyond the next 50 years, the man tasked with helping to determine their fate has warned.
Homewood Consulting’s Principal arborist Ben Kenyon has told locals the community must make the tough call within the next year on whether or not the Monterey Cypress pines stay or go and what, if anything, they should be replaced with.
Mr Kenyon and co-consultant Megan Bittingham addressed public information sessions in Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale last week – the first step in an 11-month consultation process that will ultimately decide the future of the war memorial plantings.
“The biggest issue you face with the trees here is age, then you’ve got other factors that will influence how long you can get out of the trees, but the biggest one is age, followed by power lines, the road, water issues and [the incurable disease] seridium canker is another one,” Mr Kenyon said.
“Every living thing is going to pass at some point and I think you’ve got a couple of distinct age classes here where you’ve got some trees that you’re going to have to do something about sooner than others.
“The way I tend to look at it is what’s the best outcome for the landscape and are we maintaining assets or are we maintaining liabilities. If we’re maintaining assets then let’s keep going, if we’re maintaining a liability then let’s get an asset into the landscape as quickly as we can.
“Ultimately you’ve got a big opportunity to define the way that Queenscliff looks for the next 100 to 200 years. This is probably one of those opportunities in time when you get that chance. Doing nothing is also a big decision as well,” he said.
The 112 Monterey Cypress pines were planted between 1918 and 1956 to honour local soldiers. It is one of just a few memorials of its kind in the state. “We have looked at the avenue in Mildura where irrespective of community sentiment they don’t have too many options. They will be lucky if they get 10 years out of their 70-odd trees. You do have a number of different options and so the community consultation process is fairly vital,” he said.
Homewood Consulting's initial report indicated the trees were at various stages of health, with some requiring immediate action and others likely to survive another 40-plus years.
As part of the consultation process the Borough will seek guidance from other Councils that have replaced Avenues and/or dealt with canker. Residents will ultimately determine the fate of the trees in a community survey timed for around March next year. A final report is due in August.
“If the community came back and said don’t touch them then the replacement strategy we would develop would take that into account and what that would mean is we would try to retain the trees individually for as long as possible and only remove those trees that presents an immediate risk or have died,” said Mr Kenyon.
“If I look at the bulk of the trees in human terms they are Great Grandpa and Great Grandma and when you start to get significant events it’s about how much energy reserves do they need, how many times can they cope. If they were a young adult, 18-to-25 year old, they could cope with a lot of significant events and still bounce back. Once you start to be quite elderly it doesn’t take a lot to tip it one way or another….they’re an ageing population, that’s your primary concern
“No matter what you do, if you do nothing these trees are not going to be here in another 50 years. Working back from that now you need to decide whether Queenscliffe is going to have some decent trees in 50 years time. “
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