INVERLOCH is in danger of losing its leafy appeal, with the incidence of tree poisonings rising at an alarming rate.
Vandals are boring holes into trees and pouring poison into stumps and roots, with the worst hit areas being along Ramsay Boulevard and in the town’s established eastern neighbourhood.
Trees are being killed to make way for sea views and as more development occurs in town, the number of mature trees being sacrificed for greed is increasing.
The bushy allure that drew people to Inverloch is vanishing, leaving the town at risk of resembling a Melbourne suburb.
Trees are being destroyed along the town’s foreshore, and bold vandals are even trespassing onto private land, entering backyards to slay trees between their balconies and the sea.
Trees on vacant blocks of land are dying mysteriously when vegetation on neighbouring properties is healthy, paving the way for large scale development.
Arborist Peter Bateman is disturbed by the attacks, saying the escalation has coincided with rising property values.
“Whenever we get environmental vandalism, trees are destroyed and carbon is released and the cycle of carbon induced sea level rises continues,” the owner of Arborzone Professional Tree Services said.
“Houses along the foreshore will get washed away in 200 years but people do not think long term.
“This is public land they are vandalising. We are talking about people that have bought blocks of land for up to $800,000 and build houses that are valued up to $700,000, and you would imagine these sorts of people would be responsible and show respect.”
Bass Coast Shire Council’s environment manager Alison Creighton said council continues to monitor the situation, but needed the public’s help.
“We are talking to people about getting evidence and information, but a lot of people do not want to do it because it’s their neighbours or friends that are doing it,” she said.
“They need to be willing to get up in court and say here’s the proof.”
Ms Creighton said council had not ruled out erecting “ugly” signs where trees have been poisoned, to block the view and deter potential offenders.
“We would rather see how we can get the community together to replant it and then they would look after it,” she said.
Three trees near Pensioner Point are dying side by side. Further west along the foreshore, other trees are dead or dying.
Cypress trees have been attacked many times over the years, but still survive. Up nearby Venus Street, with its stunning ocean vistas, only the trunks and branches of trees remain, the life sucked from them.
On the eastern side of town, the area around Pymble Avenue, Bayview Avenue and Nautilus Road is a hot spot for tree attacks, as old homes are removed to make way for multi-storey complexes. Trees on naturestrips, and in front and back yards have been killed.
“In some ways, poisoning trees in backyards is worse than poisoning council trees because they are on private property. It’s one thing to destroy public property but when people enter private property, they are trespassing,” Mr Bateman said.
A tell tale sign of tree poisoning is a browning canopy. Eventually all leaves die and peripheral branches fall away.
Despite any financial gain people may enjoy, Mr Bateman said many people overlook the monetary value of mature trees. One tree can add up to $20,000 to a property’s value.
Mr Bateman is contracted by council to care for poisoned trees. He will try to save trees by flushing the poison out of drill holes or saturating the surrounding ground with water in a bid to dilute the poison.
Trees beyond saving are pruned of dying leaves and branches, and a skeleton left behind to obstruct the view.
“It’s council policy to keep the frame and remove the external pieces likely to fall. Frames like this will stay for 10 years so at least the poisoners do not win,” Mr Bateman said.
The fine for poisoning a tree is only around $800, but a sea view can add up to $100,000 to the value of a property.
Short URL: /?p=8031