CLOSE to 450 trees in the Roe Highway road reserve have been added to the City of Cockburn’s Significant Tree List (STL).
That is despite the corridor of marri and tuart trees being on land owned primarily by the state government, meaning the STL will offer little, if any, protection to the trees should the State want to remove them.
The Save Beeliar Wetlands (SBW) group nominated the trees for Cockburn’s STL after a large jarrah tree was cut down in January following a complaint about a beehive.
The felling drew criticism for a number of reasons, including because the tree was located on the Roe Highway reservation
In December, the WA Supreme Court deemed environmental approval for the Roe Highway extension was invalid and could not proceed.
SBW said the trees should be retained because they cool the surrounding area and provide homes to many native animals.
“We feel that listing all the significant trees on the register would acknowledge the importance of these critical ecological assets to the council,” SBW convenor Kate Kelly wrote to council.
In a report to councillors, a City officer said none of the trees individually met the criteria of a significant tree based on historical significance, horticulture value, how rare they were, their location, size, age, form, or their indigenous association.
“However as a collection these trees are considered to meet the criteria for ‘location or context’,” the report said.
“As a corridor of very large, mature marri and tuart trees they make a major contribution to the landscape and character of the area.”
Of the 114 submissions made during the community consultation process, 112 supported the proposal. Thirty-seven of the supporting submissions came from people living outside the City.
Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren backed adding the trees to the register.
“There is no doubt that the various eucalypt trees in the nomination make a major cultural and physical contribution to the landscape,” she said.
“In many cases, the trees are far older than buildings in the area and some of them even pre-date the arrival of Europeans.”
One resident opposed the proposal, as did Main Roads.
“A number of these trees are proposed to be cleared if the Roe Highway extension receives environmental approval,” Main Roads wrote in its submission.
During the May ordinary council meeting, councillor Steve Portelli described the push to have the trees included in the STL as a stalling tactic to block Roe 8.
Cr Portelli did not get far though, with councillor Lee-Anne Smith calling a point of order on him three times.
She said Cr Portelli had gone off topic by suggesting the item was about protecting the trees against Roe 8.
Deputy Mayor Carol Reeve-Fowkes said the proposal was simply about increasing protection for significant trees.