It was the sound of chainsaws that alerted Sophie Ellis to the threat facing the canopy overlooking her family's backyard.
Last Friday morning, the Ballarat East resident's four-year old-son told her about the noise coming from the social housing property behind their home.
When she discovered a contractor about to chop down two gum trees beyond her fence, she protested.
With her two young children in tow, she went back and forth on the phone with authorities for most of the morning, before getting a stay of execution on the trees, which she describes as "magnificent".
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However, for her the incident has raised questions about the DHHS's processes for removing trees on properties they manage.
The Courier also spoke to the tenant, who did not wish to be named, but said she was only informed there were concerns about the tree the day before.
A long-term resident at the Rodier Street address, she said it was not clear the intention was to chop the tree down until the men with chainsaws arrived.
"I felt shocked and really sad, because it's the only form of shade I have," she said. "My kids have climbed it - we have the rosellas, cockatoos and magpies that nest in the trees."
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She said a neighbour had called the DHHS asking for it to be trimmed, but is confident residents in the area want the trees to stay.
Despite asking for the trees to remain, she did not feel she had a say in the process - and was very pleased when Ms Ellis intervened. The trees remain standing, with one severely pruned - and a further discussion on their future due next week.
Ms Ellis, meanwhile, is concerned it may indicate more systemic issues with how trees are removed.
She also believes there is a disconnect in the way the process - which she described as "non-transparent" - played out, while the City of Ballarat is aiming to increase canopy cover.
"The trees provide a beautiful habitat for the children to enjoy, for nature, for the birds and other animals."
"We need trees more than ever with climate change - our government agencies need to be safeguarding the environment for our children.
"Unless there is an adequate reason for it, they shouldn't be doing this."
Ms Ellis is also concerned that tenants in social housing could feel disempowered by the process.
"Part of the reason [they listened] is that I own a house, and I said I was worried about the integrity of an embankment that supports our back fence," she said. "It seems they were more willing to listen to my concerns than the tenant's."
The DHHS was contacted for comment.
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