DEATH OF A TREE… AGAIN

deceased Flintwood age 70-100 years

The brutal amputation to kill a wonderful old rainforest tree, carefully planted and landscaped by a forbear of Wingham at least 70 years ago, which was reduced to a stump is tragic to see.  

Dr John Stockard beside an ancient moreton bay fig tree in his beloved Wingham Brush

Yet again some of Council’s “rip ‘em up Joe” team of grave trashers and killers of cypress trees at the Bight Cemetery, and general uncaring, obviously ill-informed, poorly trained and unidentified council workers whom we pay to care for our electorate, have struck.  

Hopefully these people are few and far between as we know there are many good workers in Council, though many are frustrated and disappointed at times. Like a lot of long-time staff based in Forster who have been let go and given redundancies. (Travel costs ??)

However the brutal amputation of the tree which was an extremely slow growing, multi trunk Flintwood with delicate spikey foliage a bit like Christmas holly, was totally unnecessary. 

It’s location was no doubt carefully selected at the fringe of the park, chosen many decades ago to protect, shade and provide a green screen around the elegant old park. 

Wingham is designed along the lines of a traditional English square of gracious formal buildings circling the village green. 

This lovely spreading tree was deliberately planted in a select position in the centre of town where, for generations, children had played, picnics were spread in the shade, where lovers first discreetly kissed and from a seat beneath its beautiful canopy, old timers watched the local cricket team play. 

By coincidence, world renowned rainforest specialist Dr John Stockard was passing by and stopped aghast at the “pruning” being carried out by the fluro jackets. 

His questions however were summarily dismissed as “We know what we’re doing. This tree is an invasive species, a privet. Has to go.” 

What would some codger strolling by know anyway? The suspected sub text to Dr Stockard could have been, “Hey, I work for Council. I’m a trained ‘orticulturist and ‘h’arborist, mate! Got me Tafe paper an all.” 

They wouldn’t have a bar of anything Dr Stockard had to say, though did they have to admit that the century old Canary Island Date Palms on either side of the desecrated were also designated as an invasive exotic species.  But those could stay. Their departure would be noticed.  

Obviously the men had no clue that the fellow questioning their actions was the pioneer of rainforest restoration, author of the internationally recognised Wingham Brush Method used around the world to restore rainforests. 

Dr Stockard and a team of volunteers worked for years to rescue and save the Wingham Brush using a method he devised which is now the gold standard for rainforest restoration around the world.  This last stand of floodplain subtropical rainforest along the Manning River (along with slender Coocumbac Island, representing the most southerly example of its luxuriant type) was smothered and dying under invasive weeds from the forest floor to the top of the canopy. It was a slow and painful job but it worked.

Dr Stockard retains a deep love and passion for The Brush and is understandably protective of not only a great survivor but a key tourist attraction to our area.  Though it seems other locals do not share his love and respect when a self-appointed local “advancement” group encourage overnight campers who stay on sometimes for weeks and trash the joint. Every week Dr Stockard takes a walk around and through our Brush picking up trash, remnants of drug deals, detritus of juvenile parties and campers’ mess.    

But fluro jackets could’ve cared less about the tall concerned man suggesting they might be doing the wrong thing. Buzz saws had already whirred and done their damage as the desecrators turned their backs and loaded up the truck with Flintwood limbs.  

To his credit, Director of Liveable Communities, Paul De Szell on holidays did respond to Dr Stockard’s email about this disaster and agreed it was tragic to see an heirloom tree removed by mistake. 

At the same time Council was praising their wonderful new shade sails over the kids playground in Central Park near where the trees were planted by the pioneers for shade and beauty.

Dr Stockard’s comment was, ‘The sails are on nice metal poles kids can run into.  Trees are hard to miss and not only provide us shade, more importantly, they give us fresh oxygen!  What sort of chemicals volatize from shade-sails as they disintegrate in the sun?’  

He picked up the remaining small twig from the tree that didn’t make it into the council truck. 

His wife Steph placed it in a vase to see out its last days. 

This is typical of what is happening to all that is precious, old and valuable in this area; From residents in nursing homes, to funny sentimental heritage bridges and buildings (repairable), to our landscape views, rivers, waterways, and forests and beaches. 

Our forebears are weeping in (what remains) of their graves.

DM

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