By MICK ROBERTS.
RADICAL measures could be put in place by Wollongong City Council in an effort to kerb increasing tree vandalism in the northern Illawarra.
Ward One Greens Councillor Jill Merrin is calling for Council to urgently initiate a public education campaign on the benefits of native vegetation after The Bulli Times revealed earlier this month an ongoing campaign to destroy beachside plantings.
The coordinated assault by a group of local residents has been underway on council funded Bushcare restoration work from Waniora Point, north to McCauley’s Beach for a number of years.
The vandals, who have been identified to The Bulli Times, are waging war on the Bushcare sites, claiming the trees and shrubs block views.
Although the systematic vandalism has occurred for a number of years, the extent of the latest attacks has shocked environmentalists, who have in the past refused to comment in fear of inflaming the problem.
Sandon Point Bushcare coordinator Marcel Van Wijk reluctantly decided to talk to The Bulli Times in the hope of prompting authorities to act on the problem. The veteran environmentalist said ultimately the continuing vandalism is a management issue that needs to be addressed by those in authority.
Cr Merrin said some local government authorities, such as Woollahra, have placed large banners in dead trees stating that they had been vandalised.
“Other Councils have placed shipping containers where trees have been damaged, again drawing attention to the vandalism and creating a poor view for residents behind the area,” she said.
Cr Merrin said there appears to be an increasing amount of tree vandalism along the coast, including iconic sites such as Bald Hill at Stanwell Tops.
“I assume it’s about coastal views and property values,” she said.
“Council must let residents know about the role of vegetation in beach stabilisation, particularly in light of sea level rise. Without this, their properties are at increased risk.”
Cr Merrin said residents who destroy trees that are part of Council or State funded projects are effectively stealing from the public purse.
A Council spokesperson said people vandalising trees or vegetation could be subject to large fines.