The realisation she was unable to legally stop the destruction of two Moreton Bay fig trees in Moruya’s Russ Martin Park led Turlinjah resident Ruth Halverson to abandon her tree-sitting protest on Monday.
“I spoke to the EDO (Enviromental Defenders’ Office) and they said that because the figs were taken off the significant tree list in September they couldn’t be saved,” she said.
Ms Halverson had sat in the eastern-most of the two trees with a sign “Save these fig trees” from the early hours of Tuesday morning until about 3.40pm.
Inspector Greg Flood, of the Far South Coast Local Area Command, said that due to work safety issues and the risk to Ms Halverson herself, regular police officers were unable to bring her down from the tree.
A police rescue team was called and was on its way from Bega but it was turned back when Ms Halverson came down and left of her own accord.
“It was a peaceable protest and I left on peaceable terms,” Ms Halverson said.
She says she is still sad about the trees’ fate.
“I feel like I have lost friends,” she said.
“The trees had lived for a long time and I feel a wrench in my heart.”
She said she felt no ill will towards those who cut them down.
“They were just people doing their jobs,” she said.
“I was even talking to one of the guys who had taken his five-year-old son down to see the trees the day before, and he started to cry.”
Inspector Flood said the police felt no hostility towards Ms Halverson.
“She was fine; there was no ill feeling,” he said. “It was just a process in the end.”
Even Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Lindsay Brown said he admired Ms Halverson’s dedication.
“It is good to see people being passionate about causes,” he said.
However, council says that diseased sections found in both trees justified their removal.
“A large amount of decay was found in the base of the fig tree located on the east side of the toilet block, confirming the potential risk to the public,” a council spokesman said.
“The other tree was also found to have decay in the centre top which had been plugged in the past with a large branch also displaying significant decay.
“Council is planning to have the decayed section of the tree available for the public to view soon”.