By Marcus Uhe
Keysborough residents are disappointed that a healthy gum tree believed to be over 100-years-old has been recently cut down on Lancaster Court.
The tree was removed from a residential property last week at the request of the property owner, according to neighbours of the property, who watched on in horror.
Janelle Browning watched the removal take place from her home on nearby Serpentine Road.
“I cried about four times watching it happen,” Ms Browning said. “That tree was an icon.”
“It houses so many bats and possums, where are they all going to go?
“We’ve got young kids, we want trees and we want lots of nature.”
Tarek Clements also lives on Serpentine Road and was “absolutely horrified and disgusted” to see the tree removed.
He is calling on the City of Greater Dandenong to come into line with neighbouring Local Government Areas to make it harder for trees to be removed from private property.
Certain suburbs in the City of Monash are covered by a Vegetation Protection Overlay and therefore require a permit to remove or destroy vegetation on properties that is higher than 10 metres and has a trunk circumference greater than 50 centimetres at 120 centimetres above ground level.
Permits are also required for properties within the City of Kingston to have a tree removed or destroyed.
Kingston is located on the other side of nearby Springvale Road which serves as the border between the LGAs.
“If the tree was less than a kilometre away, in the City of Kingston, it would have been saved,” Mr Clements said.
“That’s why they [City of Greater Dandenong] find themselves in such a mess with such low canopy coverage.
“It has to stop.”
Director of City Planning, Design and Amenity from Greater Dandenong City Council Jody Bosman said that the issue was out of council’s hands.
“The tree being referred to is on a block of private land and council has no role to play in decisions to lop or remove the tree,” Mr Bosman said.
“No permit was required by the owner to remove this tree.
“Councillors have recently resolved that an initiative to explore the creation of a ‘Tree Protection Local Law’ be undertaken, which amongst other matters would look at protecting larger trees on private land.
“That work is still in its early stages of development and will come back to Council later in the year for discussion.”
Mr Clements wants to see discussions surrounding the Tree Protection Local Law accelerated.
“They need to bring the law is as soon as possible as they promised and stop further degradation and destruction of these beautiful trees.”
City of Greater Dandenong aim to increase their urban canopy coverage from 9.9 per cent to 15 per cent by 2028 as part of their Urban Tree Strategy.
Their current 9.9 per cent mark has them ranked as one of the lowest for all eastern Metropolitan Melbourne municipalities.
The concerned residents argued that the removal of this tree on Lancaster Court directly contradicts the council’s ambitions.