SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council will determine at the council meeting today (Wednesday) whether or not to permit the removal of trees from the caravan park in Foley Road, Yanakie, which is now managed by the shire.
In a report to Council, shire officers recommend the removal, subject to certain conditions. Their reasoning is that the removal of non-native vegetation, and their replacement with native species, is consistent with planning policies to improve the environmental quality of coastal areas. They recommend that the vegetation removal works are undertaken in a manner that minimises erosion and replacement planting is established as soon as possible.
However, thirty-four submissions objecting to the issuing of a permit for vegetation removal have been received from permit holders within the caravan park and one of those objectors, Jeff Clark, made an oral presentation to Council last Wednesday.
The key concern for the majority of objectors is the removal of the large Monterey Cypress trees from along the foreshore and within the park. They have a number of reasons for objecting. Chief among these are:
- The removal is unjustified, as the trees are healthy, showing no sign of cypress canker;
- The Monterey Cypress trees were planted by the Yanakie Girl Guides to provide shelter from the easterly winds and their unceremonious removal is disrespectful;
- The trees provide habitat for various birds and mammals;
- Removal of the Cypress trees will expose the park to gale force winds from the east which will limit the usability of the children’s play area and the camping area;
- Removal of the Cypress trees will expose the park to winds from the west and north-west;
- Exposure of the park to more winds will make other trees more susceptible to wind damage;
- Removal of the Cypress trees will destroy the character of the area and the view along, and of, the foreshore;
- The Monterey Cypress trees absorb a lot of effluent from the septic system that could otherwise go into the sea;
- The trees provide shade for park users.
The shire officers rebutted all these arguments in their report to Council. Nevertheless, Mr Clark pressed several of these same points in his presentation last Wednesday. He began by presenting his credentials – that he is a long-time part-time resident of Yanakie Caravan Park and also a retired forester and former caravan park owner who used to rate caravan parks.
He argued, in particular, for the retention of the Monterey Cypress trees on the grounds of the shelter they provide from the wind and the water absorption role their roots perform. He said that it could take ten years or more before replacement trees were big enough to be useful. He suggested trimming the trees instead and perhaps taking out every alternate one, rather than all of them, and planting quick-growing native species as replacements.
The mayor, Cr Jeanette Harding, thanked Mr Clark for his presentation and promised to take his arguments into consideration when Council makes a decision on whether or not to issue a permit to remove vegetation at Yanakie Caravan Park.