ALBURY Council is appealing for information from the public after almost 30 trees were deliberately poisoned and removed from Albury's Nail Can Hill and Black Range reserves.
The trees - some of which were 200 years old - were found with drill holes in their trunks that had been filled with a suspected herbicide.
In every case the tree had either died and been removed or its health had significantly deteriorated.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack encouraged anyone with information about the poisoning to come forward.
“This is one of Albury’s most significant areas of remnant vegetation and the loss of these established trees on its edges is unacceptable," Cr Mack said.
"The removal of these trees also has consequences for the animals that utilise them as habitat.
“The Black Range and Nail Can Hill Reserves contain endangered vegetation such as the box gum woodland.
"For this reason Black Range is considered one of Albury’s most significant natural assets.”
Box gum woodland is considered an important habitat for many declining woodland birds such as the brown treecreeper, as well as the endangered squirrel glider.
Box gum woodlands are listed as an "endangered ecological community" under the NSW Threatened Species and Conservation Act.
This vegetation class is also protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The NSW Land & Environment Court can impose fines of up to $1.1million for clearing this type of vegetation without authorisation.
“Albury is investigating the poisoning of the trees with support from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage," Cr Mack said.
"We’re appealing to anyone who has information about the poisoning and removal to come forward and help our investigation.”
Cr Mack said the motives of those responsible were not clear but that it was possible the trees had been poisoned and removed to be used as firewood.
Albury Council first became aware of the poisoning in late January after a routine inspection of the area.
Anyone with information about the poisoning and removal is encouraged to contact vegetation management officer Steve Onley on (02) 6023 8111.