NO-ONE denies the eucalypts removed from Littleton Gardens were beautiful trees providing welcome shade in the centre of the shopping district.
However, there has been much debate over the actual health of the trees and reported public safety concerns.
Last week’s letter from concerned Tathra resident Sue White is only the latest in an ongoing debate over the trees’ recent removal by the council (BDN, 3/9).
“Some local residents have informed me the trees were dangerous and had termite problems, but I find this hard to believe,” Ms White wrote.
She is not alone in having the view the trees were healthy and should have remained in place.
However, at least one of the trees posed potentially grave danger to the public – perhaps even more so than many supporters of its removal realise.
The BDN was invited to inspect the main trunk of the tree previously taking pride of place in the Littleton Gardens children’s playground.
One of the contractors who helped cut down and dispose of that particular gum tree - who preferred to remain anonymous – had cross sections of the main barrel showing considerable water damage and rot, and gaping internal cracks and voids in the main branches.
In fact, the central “holding wood” was so soft and rotten it was able to be scooped out with bare hands.
It is this holding wood that is meant to give a tree its structural strength.
The rot started at a large split in the outer layer - perhaps originally a “cocky bite or weather damage” said the vegetation management officer – and went all the way through to the centre of the tree’s barrel.
The split was really the only external sign anything untoward was happening under the surface.
The extent of the damage surprised even the contractor.
“They were beautiful looking trees,” he said.
“But they are not the type of tree I’d want over a kids’ playground, let alone where people sit.
“Goodness runs up and down the outer layer and you generally can’t tell by looking at the outside [this is going on].
“Water, even dew in the mornings, sits in splits like this and rots away through to the holding wood.”
Perhaps even more disturbing was the internal damage to the main branches, which at one time arched gracefully directly over the play equipment.
At a guess, the main branch would have weighed close to a ton, the contractor said – definitely not something you’d want to come down on a playground.