Fears 35m Tree will Damage House or Harm People

Donna Cox stands at her cracked wall under the rose gum tree. Picture: Will Russell
Donna Cox stands at her cracked wall under the rose gum tree. Picture: Will Russell

DONNA Cox lives in the shadow of a massive rose gum tree she fears may one day kill her.

For seven years Ms Cox has battled unsuccessfully to have the 35m tall “widow maker” removed.

“My biggest fear is that the tree will fall on my house or on my neighbours’ house,” she said.

“It will kill anyone who is in either house or even in the backyard if it fell.”

Ms Cox has lived in her Ardross home since 1990 and over the past 26 years the towering rose gum has slowly destroyed her front wall, driveway and peace of mind.

“We re-did the driveway when we moved in but since then the root system has cracked both it and our front wall and it is pointless to repair them now,” she said.

“The main issue is falling branches – some of them are massive and could easily kill a person or damage a car.”

Since approaching the City of Melville about the issue in 2009, two independent arboriculturalists have assessed the tree, first that year and again in 2011.

Both times they recommended pruning to remove dead branches but otherwise found the tree did not pose an excessive risk.

Last month, a large branch fell just metres from a car parked in Ms Cox’s driveway, prompting her to again contact the City of Melville.

“I love trees, but my ideal outcome would be for this particular tree and its root system to be totally removed,” she said.

“That tree is a widow maker. It should be in Kings Park. It’s bigger than a lot of the trees in Kings Park and does not belong in the suburbs.”

City of Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox said a third arboriculturalist had been engaged to assess the tree after Ms Cox’s most recent complaint but the City remained opposed to removing healthy trees.

“To remove a tree that has been assessed more than once as being in a good condition and of no risk to the public would work against the hard work that is being done to achieve a greener urban environment,” he said.

“The City is also well on the journey to develop an Urban Forest Strategy, which will provide a clear direction to support our goal of increasing the tree canopy cover in our suburbs.

“The Urban Forest Strategy will also involve educating the community on all the wonderful benefits of trees.”