GONE: Trees have been cut down in Bonalbo, enraging residents who said there had been no community consultation from Kyogle Council.
GONE: Trees have been cut down in Bonalbo, enraging residents who said there had been no community consultation from Kyogle Council. Jackie Munro

'One morning they were gone': Fury over loss of trees

A GROUP of Bonalbo residents say they feel angry and disappointed at the lack of council consultation after Kyogle Council removed a number of trees from the village.

On June 25, council workers cut down a number of hoop pine and jacaranda trees along Woodenbong Road, which residents said they received no warning about until it was "too late".

"We didn't know it was going to happen. One morning the trees were gone... they were just gone and we didn't know why," a resident said.

She said after she contacted council, she was told that an arborist report had deemed the trees "unsafe", which was why they had been removed.

However she said there were far more dangerous trees within the village which had been left untouched.

"There is a dangerous jacaranda trees at the caravan park with a cracked, dropping branch but it still hasn't been removed," she said.

"There's some other trees around, which are on council land which are going to drop branches on people's homes."

Another resident said that while removing two of the trees, council workers had ignored a large camphor laurel.

"They've cut down these two perfectly healthy trees, and left a camphor laurel there, which is a noxious weed, right in the middle," he said.

"It's just a joke."

Another resident said "the lack of community consultation was appalling" and the community should have been more involved in the process.

"Money from the sale of the tree ferns and stags, which had been on the trees before they were cut down, could have been put back into the community," she said.

"Many groups and volunteer organisations, such as the men's shed, could have made good use of the cut trees, if they had to be cut down at all."

However Kyogle Council general manager Graham Kennett said the trees were required to be removed as they were "old and diseased and in an unsafe condition".

"This was identified through an independent arborist's report for each tree," he said.

"The only exception was one hoop pine which was removed to allow for the reconstruction and realignment of the access road to the pre-school, which was currently not contained within the road reserve."

Mr Kennett said council has plans to plant replacement trees as part of a broader open spaces planning process in readiness for a master plan for the village.

"This master plan will identify the most appropriate location and species for any future planting or further tree removals," he said.

"There will be consultation with the local community in relation to this planning process and the master plan development."

Mr Kennett acknowledged the issue surrounding council leaving the camphor laurel, and said the tree is healthy and is currently "providing shade and amenity".

He said the noxious weed declaration only requires camphor laurels less than 3 metres to be removed and "there was no reason to remove this tree".

Mr Kennett said while there would have been use for the timber among the community, he said council had negotiated reduced rates for the tree falling and debris removal by allowing the contractor to take all the timbers they felt had value as well as removing all remaining debris from the site.

"In this manner, any residual value in the timber is reflected in the overall cost and the benefit then extends to all ratepayers, not just the few who may be able to use the timber," he said.

Mr Kennett said at this stage there were no plans to remove any more trees from Bonalbo, and said while the community was not consulted in this instance in regards to the operational removal of the diseased trees, he said the community will be engaged in regards to the master planning process.