Open Letter re: Tree Removal and Community Consultation


The Office of Australian War Graves
Townsville City Council
Queensland Dept. Environment and Science

On Friday 19 March 2021, two majestic and well loved fig trees (Ficus benjamina) were cut down and removed from Anzac Park, allegedly because they had "outgrown the area" and were "significantly impacting on the infrastructure in the Garden of Remembrance". 

These large trees, which attracted birds and provided shade for the Garden of Remembrance, were loved by the people of Townsville. 

There was no community consultation process or transparency around why the decision was made, what other solutions were explored, or even which department (or level of government) was responsible for the decision. These trees were public assets and as such, belong to the people, not a government department.

Currently, there is no requirement for the community to be consulted in such matters, despite the impact such a decision can have on a community. We believe that this needs to change.

These trees were significant to the community and enhanced a special, meaningful place. We cannot afford to lose more large, old trees unnecessarily. They attract and protect native wildlife, add to the natural amenity of our surroundings and provide shade, which is crucial in the tropics - particularly in a warming climate.

We cannot return these lost trees, but we request that the process for this kind of decision be changed to provide our community - and all communities - the opportunity to be consulted with regarding the fate of significant trees on public or commonwealth land. We also call for a Tree Register, to ensure the history of our trees is protected for the future.

According to TCC's media release, "Another tree will then be planted in the same area to offset the loss of the two weeping figs". We propose that this is insufficient, and ask that appropriate reparations be made - preferably with community involvement. 

Yours sincerely,

The undersigned.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, we have recently (9 August) secured documentation relating to this decision, courtesy of the Office of Australian War Graves. You can view the full pdf document here

GOAL: 250 signatures

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Showing 47 reactions

  • Crystal Falknau
  • Joe Sproats
  • Crystal Falknau
  • Jenny Mulcahy
  • Peter Buosi
    Big old trees are of critical value in our urban and wild landscapes. This value should be recognised by decision makers. A Significant Tree Register for Townsville is a step in the right direction.
  • Margot Fraser
  • Jennifer Lappin
  • Chris Corbett
    The Council has a very poor record on removal particularly on Magnetic Island where local native trees have been removed without consultation from my footpath on numerous occasions. There appears to be no big picture oversight of the impact of death by a thousand individual cuts. The Contractors employed by TCC are often not local and are responding to a knee jerk request from unidentified sources to remove or trim trees 🌲 to ground level. There appears to be no Plan for native, water wise, shade providing and sustainable streetscaping. Where natives are planted they are often Southern varieties not from the region . Consequently they are not Cyclone safe and are significantly impacted in severe weather events. JCU has a very creditable Cyclone Safe Native Planting guide for local varieties. The Council could do worse than consulting JCU Botany Department on a suitable Big Picture Plan rather than Aborists whose primary function is tree removal. Community Consultation is paramount in these processes as Council Administration personnel, since the decimation of the Parks Department and introduction of Contracted services, do not have the requisite knowledge, skills or experience to make evidence based or adequate decisions in the best interests of the Community who employ them.
  • Helena Cassells
  • Nigelle de Visme
  • Winifred Mulherin
  • Rex Walsh
  • Sue Cole
  • Leigh Ballaam
    Another battle lost in the war on large trees
  • Patricia Walsh
  • Kerry McIlroy
  • gerald soworka
  • Nina Dawson
  • Anneke Silver
    trees are vital to our health and well being. Plus they are beautiful!
  • Kenn Parker
    I firmly believe the removal or change to the assets of the community must only be commissioned after consultation with the community.

    The removal of these and any other of the majestic land mark trees is absolute vandalism!
  • Jane McLean
  • Vito Napoli
  • Alison Downes
  • Chris Fitz-Gibbon
  • Margaret Fitz-Gibbon
  • Margrit Rechsteiner
  • Ian Frazer
  • Michael Heytman
  • Thalie Carpenter
    The removal of well established trees must be carefully considered and the reasons founded in science, but balanced by the community input. There are many experts in our community who aren’t employed by council who may have valid ideas to preserve well established trees.
  • Jodi Pattinson