Woolgoolga community says ‘hands off our poincianas’

Northern Beaches Residents Association President Ray Willing speaks in front of gathered protesters.

WOOLGOOLGA residents are outraged at plans to remove the town’s iconic poinciana trees.

City of Coffs Harbour’s (CoCH) Woolgoolga Movement and Place Plan proposes to take out poinciana trees on the corner of Nightingale, Beach and Market Streets and put in four car-park spaces.

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On Wednesday 10 January, the beachside town’s residents gathered in numbers on Beach Street, under the branches of the poincianas, to state a common interest to save the trees from destruction.

While CoCH’s Woolgoolga Movement and Place Plan proposes to plant fresh trees, the locals do not want new boughs on the block.

The gathering called for a working group to be established to draw up an action plan encompassing saving, protecting and maintaining the trees.

Northern Beaches Residents Association (NBRA) President Ray Willing told News Of The Area, “Discussions between the community, Woolgoolga Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Beaches Residents Association is now planned to put a program together to make sure the poincianas are nurtured and not neglected, subject to our own arborist report and funding.”

Many of the residents feel the poincianas are part of Woolgoolga’s DNA, saying they are synonymous with the town like the fig trees along Sawtell’s First Avenue.

Ideas on how to save the trees and how to fund their care were shared at the gathering.

City of Coffs Harbour’s Woolgoolga Movement and Place Plan states, “Woolgoolga has good existing tree planting in some street sections, most notably the Norfolk Island Pines along Beach Street and Poinciana trees in Nightingale Street.

“Unfortunately, the Poinciana trees in Nightingale Street have been pruned inappropriately over the years (in association with providing appropriate clear zones to overhead electricity wires).

“The City’s arborist has undertaken a preliminary assessment which has revealed a number of problems and has consequently recommended the replacement of these trees over time.”

It’s the extensive pruning by the power authority that has reportedly affected the healthy longevity of the trees.

Woolgoolga resident Lindsay Hill told NOTA, “I was made aware of Council’s ill-considered plan for the removal of Woolgoolga’s iconic poinciana trees, and made my wife Trish, and in turn others aware as well.

“I think there is now sufficient anger and disgust in Council’s decisions made by those without any association with Woolgoolga to carry on the fight,” he said.

Another long-time resident, Karen Sedgwick told NOTA, “If Council remove these beautiful trees on Nightingale Street it will change the face of Woolgoolga, and not in a good way.

“I’ve lived in the area for nearly 30 years and have watched these trees grow and blossom.

“Everyone here loves to see those stunning red flowers appear in time for Christmas each year.

“This plan of Council’s to replace these trees with a few parking spots and other trees has caused astonishment and horror through our community.

“How can the City arborist make such an appalling suggestion?

“I am only one voice in many and it is expected that there will be on-going protests until this ridiculous plan is dropped by Council.”

Woolgoolga shop owner Gail Turner told NOTA, “The poinciana trees the Council wants to cut down in Woolgoolga amounts to environmental vandalism.

“Such beautiful trees that add so much character to Woolgoolga are at the heart and soul of the town.

“Residents and travellers love the trees and there is nothing more beautiful than the poinciana trees in full bloom.

“When the agapanthus flowers are blooming in the gardens surrounding each tree, it’s magnificent.

“The loss of shade and habitat will make the entire area extremely hot, uncomfortable and ugly.

“The locals are disgusted at the Council’s decision and will do whatever it takes to stop this from happening.

“There will be an ongoing campaign to lobby councillors to protect the trees.”

Karen Coatsworth from Eco Threads on Market Street told NOTA, “Woolgoolga’s poinciana trees are our version of Grafton’s jacaranda trees.

“They are very healthy, solid trees that provide shade, a home to wildlife, and a spectacular show of red blooms that bring delight to our local community as well as visitors to the area.

“I personally witnessed a tourist photographing the trees in full display a few months ago during the last flowering season.

“I was coming across the pedestrian crossing in Nightingale Street and the lady tourist was standing outside Woolgoolga Central taking photos.

“I stopped and commented on how beautiful the trees were, and she agreed enthusiastically.

“I would guarantee there will not only be many of our community members who will be bitterly disappointed to see the poincianas removed, but also many of the regular visitors we have to our wonderful town,” she said.

Karen’s other concern lies with City of Coffs Harbour’s perceived lack of transparency on the issue and the timeline for removal and replacement.

“They have mentioned a ten-year time frame for the Woolgoolga Town Plan.

“Does that mean they will cut the trees down next week because they have been pruned badly and take ten years to provide us with something else?”

A CoCH spokesperson told NOTA, “The poinciana trees in Nightingale Street, Woolgoolga have been deemed unsuitable for their location and recommended for replacement with other trees.

“Any future replacement of the trees would involve further community consultation as part of planning for broader streetscape improvements in the town centre.”


One thought on “Woolgoolga community says ‘hands off our poincianas’

  1. These trees create summer cooling shade in the center of Woopie
    township. Removing them creates a heat island effect. Added to, by , proposed, black ash felt new car spaces, to add even more heat. That the trees have been topped to clear power lines just adds to their charm as living shade umbrellas. They need to be nurtured not vandalised.

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