One tree a month suspected to be poisoned, council says

The City of Greater Bendigo says it receives many requests for tree inspections and on average uncovers one tree suspected to have been poisoned each month.

Last week Remembrance Parks Central Victoria CEO Graham Fountain blasted the actions of someone who appeared to have poisoned a century-old tree at a cemetery in White Hills.

He said their actions showed a “blatant disregard for the respect expected of people at cemetery sites” and the tree would now have to be removed.

Acting parks and open space manager Daniel McWilliam said the council was currently managing several poisoned trees throughout the municipality.

“It’s very disappointing when we do find trees to have been poisoned, as they are public property planted for the community’s benefit and to beautify our streets and gardens,” he said.

“Trees also provide many health benefits and many have been part of our city for generations. We hope that they remain for the generations to come.  

“Not only is poisoning a tree a form of vandalism, it is a criminal act that can attract large penalties.”

Bendigo Tree Service owner and operator Ian Costello worked with trees on commercial and private properties.

He had not come across poisonings during his time in the business but said the signs would be evident to anyone who knew trees well.

He would look for drill marks on the trunk, though the most obvious and well-known way to kill a tree would be to ringbark it.

Mr Costello had heard reports of people in bayside suburbs killing trees to get better views.

Another reason someone might want to kill them was because they were causing allergies.

“There’s a lot of trees that can cause allergies but silky oaks would be the most obvious. A tree might flower for one or two months and someone might be suffering an allergy all that time,” he said.

People might also be concerned about leaf litter, overhanging limbs falling into their property or invasive roots cracking concrete driveways or retaining walls.

Mr Costello said councils were becoming more open to hearing requests about overhanging branches and other tree-related issues.

“I like Bendigo council’s approach. They realise trees can pose a real risk and won’t automatically say ‘no’ to a reasonable request to look at a tree,” he said.

“So I’d encourage people to approach council and I’d expect them to be helpful.”