Land and Environment Court to decide fate of ancient tree today

At 11:00 this morning, representatives of the Land and Environment Court, Council and the Cooranbong/ Morisset community will meet at the ancient blackbutt tree on Freemans Drive Morisset to determine whether it is to be destroyed to make way for a residential subdivision.

Greens West Ward and Mayoral Candidate, Howard Morrison, said “Lake Macquarie Council has called in the Land and Environment Court to adjudicate this morning on the fate of the significant tree. I urge the court and community today, that as they stand dwarfed by the enormity of the tree, that they recognise it as an incredible relic from the past and vote to retain what must be one of the largest blackbutts in the state.”

“Since the previous Council meeting where various options were presented for the fate of the tree and its surrounds, new information has come to light about the possible cultural significance of the giant. It is expected that representatives from the Aboriginal community will be putting forward information to the court about the likely significance of the tree to their cultural heritage.”

Nick Burgess, the 25 year old local resident who is spearheading the campaign to save the tree, was ?totally shocked’ when he received advice from a professional arborist that the tree may be an Aboriginal ?feed tree’.

“The arborist explained to me that certain trees with large central hollows, such as this one, were known to Aborigines as habitats of food animals such as goannas. Controlled burning of the hollow was an important method for securing food,” said Mr Burgess.

“Yesterday I spoke to an Aboriginal representative who indicated that the tree could have also played a likely part in burial rituals,” concluded Mr Burgess.

Mr Morrison concluded, “The tree’s likely cultural significance lends even greater weight to the case for retention of the giant, which should be able to look forward to many more years of old age.”

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