Moruya digs the figs

News that Moruya’s 122-year-old Moreton Bay fig trees are going to be removed has devastated the community.

Councillors voted to remove the two decaying trees which overhang the toilet block and provide shade for picnics at Russ Martin Park.

At the combined committee meeting at Eurobodalla Shire Council on Tuesday, councillors heard the trees’ limbs were at risk of collapsing and that the non-repairable decay fungi Phellinus had been found in the wood.

For more coverage, see Moruya park trees get the chop.

Both trees are suffering the effects of fig psyllid - a sticky insect that blocks leaf-breathing pores - at “alarming levels”.

It is not yet known when the trees will be removed.

A council spokeswoman said council was currently seeking quotes to remove the trees and that a media release would be issued when the date was set.

As news circulated in the Moruya community this week, most people expressed disappointment at the announcement, but understood the reasons behind the councillors’ decision.

Moruya Historical Society vice-president Janene Love said records showed the trees were planted around the 1890s, at a school’s Arbor Day ceremony.

She also said the tree-planters may have included Sydney Foreman and Harry Waters.

“Like anything, we’re not happy that it’s happening,” Ms Love said in regard to the removal.

“We understand those things but it’s just another icon in the park, that’s going.”

Moruya Rotary president Clare Hack said the park would be spoiled.

“I think it would be such a shame to cut down those trees because they are magnificent,” she said.

“Okay, you can replant but our generation won’t see as magnificent as trees as that.”

Ms Hack said the trees provided shade for groups using the park, particularly on busy Saturdays, and for pool users, however, because of this, she understood the safety concerns.

Meanwhile, Rotary member Ron Chesher said he’d be happy to see the trees go.

“They’re a mess,” he said.

“They cost hundreds of dollars years back when they cleaned them all up and sprayed them.

“I’d be in favour of the decision, having walked down there that many times and having to take sticky goo off my shoes.”

He said one of the fig trees which was removed earlier caused traffic problems because it overhung the road.

“I do think they’re dangerous, they’ve got roots popping out of the ground. It’s a small park and they take up a lot of room.

“I think a lovely big magnolia would be nice.”

Moruya resident Jenny Thomas and her granddaughter Isabelle said the trees were a lovely feature.

“I think it’s a shame but I do understand it,” Ms Thomas said.

Councillors heard on Tuesday that council staff had been examining options to try to save the trees for the past year.

After a lengthy debate, the councillors reached a decision that the trees would be removed and replaced with a suitable species.

All voted for the removal of both trees, except for Cr Fergus Thomson, who called for more community consultation before the trees were axed.

A confidential report about the state of the trees has also been made public, and can be viewed at council’s website under Tuesday’s agenda.

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