What would possess someone to hack at two gorgeous Tuart Trees, more than a century old?
The Starfish was appalled to discover two ancient trees – now a rarity in WA – appear to have been newly ‘ringbarked’ (i.e. the trunk deeply gouged with the result that it generally dies) on hilly land by the river at 22 Bindaring Parade, Claremont.
Other vegetation in the proximity had also been cut and slashed.
The property, close to ‘Devil’s Elbow’, was purchased for $5 million in September 2016.
Claremont Council’s manager of parks and gardens, Andrew Head, said Council was aware the Tuart trees had been ringbarked several years ago. The Swan River Trust was then alerted to the act of vandalism, which had distressed local residents.
The then-owner of the 2140 square metre property, Peter Kelly, later admitted to The Post that he was behind the damage, saying he’d paid a tradesman to ringbark the trees – up to 150 years old – for him.
But close examination of the trees by The Starfish this week shows much newer gouges in the Tuarts, with sawdust still lingering in the cuts.
‘When it comes to removing trees, we have no jurisdiction for private property, which is a bit frustrating,’ Mr Head told The Starfish.
‘Where people are cutting down trees on private property we talk to them and try and talk them out of it.’
But Council had no authority to act.
He said when people noticed native plants being removed on private property near the river, ‘they should contact the Swan River Trust, which administers riverside property designated ‘parks and recreation’, for advice.
The Starfish contacted the Swan River Trust about the matter and are awaiting a response.
Earlier this year the Town of Claremont was reportedly considering a ‘tree tax’ to fine people cutting down trees on their own property.
In 2011 then-owner Peter Kelly insisted he hadn’t wanted to damage the trees to enhance his river view, rather, he considered the trees were a fire hazard.
‘At the time, I did not know the Swan River Trust had authority over the area,’ he told the newspaper.
Upset residents who complained to the Post at the time had said a local ospreys’ nest was sheltered by the Tuarts.
Mr Head told the Starfish the Council would like to see more powerful laws in place to protect native trees here, in line with those in the eastern states.
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