THE community is mobilising to save an avenue of mature lemon-scented gum trees facing the axe in Wattle Grove with a petition garnering 7000 signatures over the weekend.
Save the Gum Trees of Wattle Grove co-ordinator Vanessa Mazza said the 13 trees on Welshpool Road East were scheduled to be cut down next month to create a slip road to access the St Peters Jacobite Syrian Church development, approved by the City of Kalamunda last year.
Ms Mazza called for the trees to be given state heritage protection.
“Two of the most mature trees have circumferences of 3.7m and 3.4m,” she said.
“We need to use this issue as a springboard to push for definitive and meaningful laws for tree protection in the face of accelerating urbanisation.
“We held an emergency meeting today and the response has been overwhelming with the community and those further afield wanting to protect these beautiful and significant trees.
“After the meeting attendees walked from Wandilla Nursery to the trees carrying 13 hearts with personalised messages and signatures and staked them near the trees.”
Ms Mazza said Mayor Andrew Waddell had promised to talk to Main Roads WA with a view to saving the trees.
“The fear is the council does not seem to be bearing responsibility and is instead passing blame on to Main Roads,” she said.
“Meanwhile the trees are still at risk.”
East Metro MLC Tim Clifford said community concern about the removal of the trees highlighted the need for comprehensive community consultation.
“Kalamunda, a shire known for its green spaces, has approved a development for a place of worship that will see the removal of trees to make way for a slip road on Welshpool Road East,” he said.
“The (City) took a number of proposals to Main Roads who insisted that the slip road must be built to ensure safe access to the new development.
“There must be a better way to ensure safe access to the site and still keep these trees, particularly as the amount of traffic that will access the site is so low and limited to weekends.
“Why is it so often that trees become the victim to short cuts in planning decisions?
“This welcoming avenue of trees makes a strong entry statement to Lesmurdie.
“It is no longer acceptable for the council to just be perfunctory in its consultation methods especially when it comes to locals and their environment.”
In response to community enquiries, the City said a number of options were investigated to try to prevent the removal of the trees, however road safety was considered a higher priority.
“Tree removal arising from the development is necessary to ensure the safety of vehicles on Welshpool Road East,” the statement said.
“All tree removals and road works are being arranged by the developer for the site, and are due to begin on October 2. The City’s staff is monitoring the work.
“Following completion of the road works, the developer is also required to plant replacement trees in different locations at the City’s direction.”