Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 449 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
The conservator has imposed a number of conditions that will provide additional protection for the important trees. These include the preparation of an arboricultural management plan which will outline measures to ensure the long-term health, viability and safety of the trees, including the establishment of tree protection zones fenced off during construction. More broadly, the government is undertaking studies to support the conservation of woodlands, including endangered yellow box/red gum grassy woodlands. Intact remnants of the woodland communities will remain a higher focus of protection than individual trees.
In relation to that, it needs to be said that the trees on block 12 section 2 are not described by the Conservator of Flora and Fauna and I do not believe they are described by the Commissioner for the Environment as remnant woodland. They are individual trees that are the survivors of woodland that covered the particular area. My advice is that there is absolutely no notion or expectation that the trees could be described as woodland. Half a dozen trees, regrettably with no understorey and no connectivity with the broader environment, cannot be described as woodland.
Individual trees by themselves, as beautiful as they are, do not a woodland make. These are amenity trees. They are beautiful trees. The largest of the yellow box is an absolutely magnificent tree. It is one of the trees that will be saved by the conservator's decision in relation to this issue.
I do regret that the subeditor, in a recent Canberra Times article in relation to the trees, described that beautiful yellow box tree as one of the trees that would be removed. It was just a bit of subtle subediting licence to photograph perhaps the most beautiful tree in Belconnen and then caption it as a tree under threat when it is not. That is regrettable, but I am sure that it will not happen again.
These trees, as I say, are beautiful. The area is not remnant woodland. There is no understorey. There is no connectivity to a broader woodland ecology or environment. We have a number of surviving trees. Thank goodness they have survived, and they will continue to do so. They are very significant amenity trees. They have a significant role as habitat. But the area is not a woodland. It is not a woodland in the view of either the Conservator of Flora and Fauna or the Commissioner for the Environment.
Were we to reacquire this block, were we to find the $750,000 to $1 million that would be required for us to rebuy this block from the developer that bought it when it was put up for sale by the Liberals in the previous government, and convert the area into a park, the conservator advises me that 90 per cent of the trees that have been assessed as dangerous would continue to be assessed as dangerous and, as a response to our duty of care to the residents of Belconnen, would be removed in any event.
MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. My question was not answered. I am assuming that was because the minister needs to get further information about the different assessments of the quality of the trees. My supplementary question is: is it normal practice for the Conservator of Flora and Fauna to make the provision of an explanation of a decision to members of the community conditional upon their not discussing the contents of that meeting until the close of business the following day?