Saving Ku-ring-gai Trees

Is Ku-ring-gai’s urban forest on the brink of extinction?

FOKE remains concerned about the cumulative loss of Ku-ring-gai’s canopy trees and asks where the evidence is that Ku-ring-gai Council’s tree replanting program will:

  • compensate for the substantial loss of canopy trees, many up to 150-200 years old, across Ku-ring-gai?
  • assess the progress of where, when and which saplings have been planted over the last decades and whether they are on track to replacing Ku-ring-gai’s urban forest?
  • prioritise reaching net zero emissions by protecting Ku-ring-gai’s canopy trees for their critical role in carbon capture, temperature control and biodiversity protection?

    FOKE highlights one case study of significant tree losses in Gordon Recreational Reserve, between Werona Avenue and Rosedale Road, Gordon. In September 2023 yet another giant canopy tree in this park was targetted for removal. Where are the plans to replace the trees cut down? Where is the preventative program to restore tree health?

    Gordon residents were notified in a letter, dated 9 August 2023, that Ku-ring-gai Council intends to remove a magnificent Blackbutt Tree (Eucalyptus pilularis) located on the Rosedale Road nature strip adjacent to Gordon Recreation Reserve. This significant canopy tree is 30 metres high and with a canopy 18 metres wide.

    Ku-ring-gai Council says it wrote to residents 18 months earlier (around February 2022) informing them of the tree’s removal due to ongoing health decline. They then proceeded to contact Ausgrid to schedule the tree’s removal, as the tree is located within Ausgrid’s ‘zone of influence’.

    Ku-ring-gai Council’s RMTR22/00143 notification letter, dated 9 August 2023, again notified residents of the tree’s removal even though the letter header was ‘PROPOSED STREET TREE REMOVAL’. The letter outlined the reasons for the tree’s removal due to “concerns” regarding “the safety of the tree”. Ku-ring-gai Council’s Tree Management Officers along with an external consultant confirmed that the tree has significant structural defects to the upper trunk/canopy.

    Thanks to the Gordon Ward Councillors , residents were finally provided with a photo of the Blackbutt Tree to accurately identify which tree was to be removed (see photo above) as well as the arborist reports.

    Residents have requested a site meeting, but this has yet to be confirmed.

    FOKE believes that in future Ku-ring-gai Council should provide detailed site maps, in their tree removal correspondence to residents especially as this is a stringent requirement for Ku-ring-gai residents when they seek permission to remove or prune a tree. Many residents were confused about which tree Ku-ring-gai Council was going to remove when they received the tree removal letter.

    Yet FOKE asks what is the long-term management plan for the trees in this park? Will more significant trees be removed? How can residents be confident that Ku-ring-gai Council’s tree management is working for the long term?

    Already since July 2023 Ku-ring-gai Council has removed two significant Angophora trees from Gordon Recreation Reserve.

    At a site meeting with residents, on 21 June 2023, Ku-ring-gai Council staff agreed to undertake an independent report to assess the removal of a young, healthy Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata) growing next to the heritage pagoda entrance gate facing Werona Avenue, Gordon. This independent report recommended removal and in early August 2023 this healthy young Angophora tree was cut down. Another huge Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata) tree, located near the Tennis Pavilion, was also removed that was in poor health due to a fungal disease.

    During this site meeting, residents expressed concern over the cumulative loss of significant trees in the Gordon Recreation Reserve and its negative impact on Ku-ring-gai’s biodiversity. They also expressed concern that the ‘Masterplan’ for the park appears to be out of date especially following the November 2019 wild storm that, like a mini tornado with winds up to 90km/h, brought down many trees across the park as well as across Gordon and Pymble.

It is disappointing that at that June 2023 site meeting Ku-ring-gai Council staff did not disclose their intentions to remove the Blackbutt Tree near Rosedale Road and inform residents they were awaiting scheduling from Ausgrid. One now wonders which other trees are earmarked for removal?

One Gordon resident living near Gordon Recreation Reserve, since 1959, remembers noting that at least nine significant trees have been blown or cut down in the park. He estimates that about six saplings have been planted but few on the western side of the park near Werona Ave, between the split in the pathway. At least five significant trees have been lost near the Heritage Gateway.

Isn’t it time that this Masterplan be reviewed to take into account the ecological significance of the park?

FOKE remains deeply concerned about Ku-ring-gai’s Tree Management and whether it is fit for purpose as we face an escalating climate and biodiversity crisis.

This Angophora giant was removed from Gordon Recreation Reserve in July 2023
Will more trees be cut down and remove more habitat?