Maintenance, consultation promised at Bermagui tree meeting

On the eve of their proposed removal, two native trees in Bermagui’s Dickinson Park have been given a lifeline.

A crowd of about 60 people gathered to meet with Bega Valley Shire Council’s recreation assets officer John Turville and a qualified arborist to discuss alternatives to removing the trees, which are approximately 100 years old.

The group also pushed for council to recognise the lack of community consultation regarding tree removal in the shire. 

On August 28, council announced its intention to remove three trees in the vicinity of the Surf Life Saving Club and new outdoor gym. 

Citing them an “unacceptable risk”, the trees were scheduled for removal on September 13 and 14, along with maintenance work on a further four trees in the area. 

After considerable community backlash to the proposed removal, council released a second statement on September 8, agreeing to “slow their progress” and discuss options for further management of the trees. 

Bermagui local Sam Davis attended the meeting and said Mr Turville was given a strong message to take back to council.

“Tree removal is increasing at a frightening level with no consultation with community members, this must change,” she said.

“Residents in Bermagui and other surrounding towns, notably Bega, have become increasingly angry and disheartened with the council’s lack of policy on this subject.” 

As a result of Tuesday afternoon’s consultation, alternative solutions such as planting garden beds under the trees and restricting car access to the area emerged. 

Gary Campbell from Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council said getting cars out from underneath the trees would improve their health. 

“They’re driving all over the root system, that’s why the trees get so sick,” he said. 

“We talked about doing it properly, making a park out of the whole space and getting rid of the cars here.”

Mr Campbell said he had a positive discussion with Mr Turville and the arborist, passing on his personal number for Mr Turville to call next time there were plans to change native vegetation. 

“That’s what we wanted, that conversation,” he said.

“We just want them to let us know what’s going on, don’t keep us in the dark about this stuff.”

Mr Campbell is currently revisiting LALC meeting minutes regarding possible protections placed over the trees in question during the construction of the Bermagui Surf Club in 2012. He will pass his findings to Mr Turville.