CLAREMONT’S Queensland box trees face axing in a two-year trial of felling and replacement with WA species in a move agreed at the council last night.
“They don’t provide shade to any great degree, drop nuts and don’t help native wildlife,” proponent Cr Kate Main said.
Rows of often heavily pruned box trees can be found in 27 of Claremont’s 140 streets, after they were planted for resilience to disease, pests, drought and any poor drainage.
Where underground power has been installed their canopies have grown to 14m and contributed to the town’s tree coverage of 20 per cent.
Cr Main said replacements for box trees selected from the council’s street tree policy would eventually provide a greater canopy and provide habitat for native wildlife.
She said replacements such as WA peppermint tree “take off” as soon as their roots were established.
However, a staff report said the council risked sending the “wrong message” to residents and developers who may wish to remove box trees.
It also said the plan risked exceeding the council’s capability to plant and water 200 saplings annually.
Councillors were sceptical of the claimed rates at which the box tree would be replaced when they initially considered the proposal last month, but they said subsequent conversations with the community indicate a majority of residents wanted to replace the species.
“We’ve got 1459 Queensland box trees in Claremont, and as far as I am concerned that’s 1458 too many,” Cr Paul Kelly said.
The trial allows only felling up to 10 per cent of the 1459 on the town’s verges annually, and residents who ask for the change pay $3400 for each replacement.
No more than 10 per cent of any boxes can be removed form each street in any year
Replacement must come from the approved list, and all the work will be done by the council and not residents.
The program will be reviewed in two years, and the replacement fee in 12 months.