By Jake Dietsch
The City of Melville wants to remove 25,000 street trees, with some iconic jacarandas in Applecross among those facing the axe.
The proposed cull is part of a long-term plan to protect the city’s greenery by replacing old and dying trees with younger and more environmentally suitable ones.
This week the council asked for public feedback after the plan was approved unanimously by the local government.
Mayor Russell Aubrey says many trees in the area are dying and will not meet the city’s needs for the future.
“[Jacarandas] are lovely trees but half of them are dying now,” Mayor Aubrey says.
“There’s no point persevering with these trees if in 20 years’ time it’s essential we have a fully developed tree canopy.”
Murdoch environmental engineering professor, Dr Michael Hughes, says the council’s decision is an “absolutely positive” development, and hopes more native species are planted.
However, according to some residents and urban forest experts, the council will face a major challenge in convincing the community the changes are necessary.
Rhys Gustafsson, who worked with the City of Fremantle on their “green plan”, says people become very attached to trees.
“If someone says they’re going to cut them down it’s quite distressing,” Mr Gustafsson says.
Ardross resident Carol says: “I certainly wouldn’t like them removed, [if they’re dying] they should replace them with more jacarandas.”
Local retiree Elaine adds: “You’ve got a big sales job on persuading people who live in Applecross that jacarandas are not appropriate street trees.”
Mr Aubrey says a rise in rates is being considered to fund the program which is expected to cost more than $500 000 a year and $11million in total.
“If you value the future of your city we have got to bite the bullet and spend this money,” he says.
Melville residents can have their say on the “Urban Forest Strategy” at http://www.melvilletalks.com.au/urbanforest.