The City of Ballarat has signalled its intention to proceed with the removal of a stand of Monterey, or radiata, pines at Black Hill, saying it has received further independent arborist advice confirming the vast majority of pines in the plantation are well past their life span and are a significant safety concern.
The trees, which form an impressive backdrop to the Black Hill swimming pool, are just one of a number of pine plantations which council is appraising for safety.
In a statement to The Courier on Friday evening, council confirmed these trees and other stands across the City of Ballarat were being examined with regard to their future.
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"Council is currently in the process of assessing other pine plantations in the municipality as part of the due diligence concerning all its tree assets, understanding when pine plantations would be removed, not if, and that their condition is the greatest contributing factor to necessitating removal," the council statement said.
The City of Ballarat stressed any trees removed due to safety concerns will be substituted, but the replacements will not be pines.
"The trees will be replaced with a more suitable species in accordance with the Australian Standard AS 2303-2015 Tree Stock for Landscape," the council statement said.
"The site will be revegetated with local native trees, shrubs and groundcovers.
"Replanting with local native species will benefit the biodiversity of the Black Hill area and return vegetation types that were there before the gold rush era. Local native vegetation provides more habitat value for wildlife than non-native species such as pine trees."
Local Julian Whitta has taken issue with council's assessments, saying some of the trees are mid-life span, and the City of Ballarat has failed to provide the Black Hill community with evidence for their decision or a clear map of what the replacement plan will look like.
"The community has no way to establish what safety concerns Council may have, since no specifics have been provided," Mr Whitta said in a letter to The Courier.
"It is errant nonsense to suggest that revegetation with local native species in this one, small, isolated, and now heavily urbanised spot will either provide any material benefit to the biodiversity of the area, or return vegetation types of a bygone era of untrammelled landscapes."
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