LandCare volunteers concerned over clearing of littoral forest at Salamander Bay

Tall trees lollipopped.

 

A GROUP of Salamander Bay residents have expressed their concerns about the clearing of the littoral rainforest which sits between Bannisters and the foreshore at Salamander Bay.

The strip of littoral rainforest sits on Port Stephens Council managed public land and is cared for by local LandCare volunteers.

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This recent clearing work has been conducted just months after the community objected to Bannisters removing trees and undergrowth in the same area in around May of this year.

This week a survey of the recent work revealed significant pruning and the removal of young healthy trees.

Local LandCare volunteer Cherylle Stone conducted a survey of the forest immediately after the trees were worked on by Bannisters contractors and recorded, “23 trees that have limbs removed.

“Of those 20 are juvenile trees.

“In addition there are at least four small trees that have been removed.

“Where’s the logic in destroying the next generation of trees?

“Healthy littoral rainforest comprises three levels.

“At ground level are grasses and small shrubs, creepers, vines and ferns.

“The middle level has cabbage tree palms and low growing shrubs, juvenile trees, taller shrubs and vines.

“The top level is an almost continuous canopy of mature trees with vines reaching up.

“This is not a high risk fire zone.

It’s a small, isolated area where a fire is unlikely to start, let alone gain intensity.

“The repeated attacks on the forest by Bannisters, aided by Council, are solely aimed at enhancing water views and increasing access to the foreshore,” she said.

When queried about the works Council originally advised News Of The Area, “One dying tree will be removed to mitigate a fall risk onto the building and be replaced to a suitable location on the site as habitat.”

Upon being provided with further evidence of at least four additional trees being removed a Council representative stated, “Any juvenile trees that have been removed to ground level are within the mid-story strata levels allowed within the permit.

“This is aimed to reduce fuel loads near the building that could allow flames to rise.

“Mature trees in the canopy strata layer have been pruned – not removed – for the same reason and also to prevent falling branches.

“This keeps leaves and sticks – the easiest ignited material – away from the structure.

“Ground cover is to remain and be improved.”

Council went on to advise that “over 800 plants of varied species will be planted in the area”.

Cr John Nell told News Of The Area, “Yes, I was informed about the work in the Councillor’s Newsletter last week.

“The reasons for the work is to satisfy requirements by Bannisters Insurance company with regards to the risk of bushfires.

“Tall trees are being trimmed and weeds including Lantana was being removed and replaced with some 800 native plants (tube stock).

“In addition, seeds from river redgums are being collected for propagation at the Ngioka Centre.

“Having said all that, I am getting tired as a Councillor being asked questions about things, for which I have no responsibility.

“Council should learn from its mistakes and get works on or near the waterfront approved by Councillors rather than expect them to defend staff’s actions after it has happened.

“Hopefully, Councillors living in the area would ask all the right questions and consider all alternatives before agreeing to works on or near the waterfront, e.g. shelters at Shoal Bay, trees getting trimmed at Bannisters etc,” he said.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

 

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