Greens Call on Lake Macquarie Council to Save Ancient Tree

Lake Macquarie Greens West Ward and Mayoral Candidate, Howard Morrison today called on Lake Macquarie Council to save what could be one of the state’s biggest and oldest trees.

The giant Blackbutt tree, located on private land at Freemans Drive, Morisset, has been estimated at being almost 600 years old. It is under imminent threat of being bulldozed to make way for a residential subdivision.

Mr Morrison said, “Council could vote as early as January on a plan put forward by Council staff and the developer to remove three significant trees from the land – one being the giant blackbutt tree.”

Local residents Nick Burgess (25) and Lee McMinn (21) are spearheading a campaign to have the tree preserved. The Burgess family’s connection to the tree goes back to 1969.

Mr Burgess said, “My father first noticed it while working on an adjoining property. He was fascinated because he came from Europe and trees like this had long disappeared from built-up areas. He decided to measure the girth of the tree, but being on his own, had to drive a nail in to hold the end of his carpenter’s measuring tape. From the time I was 4, he regularly took me back to view the tree.”

In 2000 and with the permission of the previous owner, Nick and his father measured the tree again using the same nail as a reference. Using non-invasive methodology, the tree’s age was estimated at up to 600 years.

According to Mr Burgess, “the tree’s base circumference of 13 metres is 1.5 metres greater than “Eucalyptus Grandis” at Bulahdelah – the acknowledged tallest tree in NSW. As with any tree of this age and size, it has become an important habitat. It is home for possums, birds, lizards and at least two beehives. Last week I went to Council with a letter asking to have the tree placed on the Lake Macquarie Significant Tree Register. I believe my request is to be considered at an upcoming Council meeting.”

Mr Morrison said, “the Lake Macquarie Greens are about getting the balance right – especially between the natural and built environment. This tree may have been a century old when Europeans still believed the world was flat. It is disturbing to think we could destroy such a powerful link to our region’s past. If allowed to, this tree could outlive all of the parties involved.”

“Here is a defining opportunity for Council to move beyond its gatekeeper role on this issue and strike an innovative solution that satisfies the developer and the community.”

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