A gum tree hundreds of years old growing on vacant Baranduda land has been poisoned and Wodonga Council should make those responsible pay, a neighbour says.
Stewart Taylor moved from the Blue Mountains to the new Baranduda estate along Bullington Way more than a year ago and enjoyed the view of the red gum on the property next door from his front porch.
Mr Taylor said about a month ago he looked across at the tree one afternoon and noticed its leaves had turned a sickly brown.
“I said to my wife, ‘That tree is dying’. So, I went over there and had a look and spotted the hole in the bottom and put two and two together and rang council,” he said.
“That tree was the biggest and most beautiful tree in the whole block.
“It’s so disappointing to see a tree of this size just being allowed to be killed.”
The landowner, who did not want to be named, applied for a permit to remove the tree after an arborist’s report found it was in poor health.
He said he planned to sub-divide the lot in the next three to five years and the branches of the old tree were dangerous for his young children.
“It’s nice to be sitting on the other side of the fence, but when your kids are running around there, it’s a whole different scenario,” he said.
He said he was not aware the tree had been poisoned and white ant testing six months ago revealed an infestation that could have contributed to the tree’s demise.
A permit was granted to the landholder to remove the tree with conditions that included planting native vegetation to offset the removal.
But another landowner objected to the conditions and he had the permit revoked through VCAT.
He was seeking another permit to remove the dying tree.
Wodonga Council planning and infrastructure director Leon Schultz said council staff inspected the tree in recent weeks and saw some of the limbs were dead or dying.
“The tree remains a vital habitat for native fauna,” Mr Schultz said.
He said the council was in the “difficult position” of being able to prove the tree had been poisoned and if it had been, who was responsible and when.
He said the council was committed to the conservation of native vegetation.