Trees under attack
TORQUAY Police are investigating three cases of tree vandalism in the past month, with offenders facing criminal charges, hefty fines and up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
The chain-sawing of an 18-metre eucalypt in late July at Rice Reserve at Mount Duneed, was followed with reports of deliberate poisoning of trees along a nature strip in Torquay’s Fischer Street, just north of Inshore Drive.
Surf Coast Shire Council arborists investigating the poor condition of the two young ironbarks and two semi-mature yellow gums discovered holes drilled near their bases and are believed to have been poisoned between three and five weeks ago.
The trees have an estimated combined value of more than $10,000, including removal and replacement.
Surf Coast Shire council has this week referred a third case of criminal damage to police, following the lopping of a yellow gum on a nature strip in Spring Valley Drive, Torquay.
The council says it receives reports of “several instances” of tree vandalism or poisoning each year and officers hope the increased use of CCTV cameras on private properties might assist with current investigations.
The council now refers all cases to the police and has warned that offenders can face significant penalties.
A case in Anglesea in 2019 resulted in a conviction and fine of more than $20,000.
Surf Coast Shire mayor Libby Stapleton said local residents and visitors appreciated trees as part of the “character, appeal and environmental value of our beautiful communities”.
“Vandalism is unacceptable on any level but it is so incredibly disappointing to hear about instances where trees are damaged, sometimes beyond saving,” Cr Stappleton said.
“This vandalism comes at a financial cost to ratepayers, and an environmental and aesthetic cost to our community.
“It might take decades for a replacement tree to reach the size of one thoughtlessly or deliberately vandalised.”
People who heard or saw anything suspicious, or can provide any information can call Leading Senior Constable Joseph Anderson at Torquay Police on 5264 3400.