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MEEGAN Fitzharris says the trees along Northbourne Avenue have continued to deteriorate and 42 trees are now identified as either dead or decaying requiring urgent removal.
“A recent comprehensive assessment of the trees on Northbourne Avenue, between Alinga Street and Antill Street south, has identified 41 Eucalyptus elata (River peppermint) trees located in the median and one mature Eucalyptus mannifera (Brittle Gum) in the verge that require removal for health and safety reasons.
“As Northbourne Avenue is one of Canberra’s busiest roads, the assessments determine that the trees cannot be retained for safety reasons. The trees are either dead or have structural defects that cannot be corrected by pruning.
“The 42 trees have been scheduled for removal in April. This work will take place outside peak hours to limit the impact on traffic movement along Northbourne Avenue.
“The trunks of removed trees will be reused in the Molonglo Valley to provide new homes for some of our endangered box-gum woodland creatures including invertebrates, reptiles and birds, helping to promote increased biodiversity.
“The existing River peppermints were planted between 1983 and 1986, and are the third generation of trees planted in the median strip of Northbourne Avenue. This species was chosen as it was expected to be tolerant of the irrigation requirements of the grass that was also planted in the median at the time. Unfortunately this has not proven to be the case.
“Planting these trees in an irrigated environment has resulted in poor root growth and fast grown timber that is vulnerable to fungal decay. These factors, along with long periods of drought, have had a profound effect on the trees meaning only approximately 420 of the 710 trees originally planted remain today.
“Territory and Municipal Services tree maintenance teams will also undertake pruning on some of the verge and median trees before the end of June 2016 to improve amenity and structure of the remaining trees. All trees along Northbourne Avenue will continue to be monitored for defects and signs of decline and further works will be scheduled as required.
Minister Fitzharris said the trees on Northbourne Avenue will be replanted as part of the light rail project.
“As part of the light rail construction, around 830 new trees will be planted – around 200 more trees than are currently on Northbourne Avenue and the Federal Highway. Eucalyptus mannifera has been selected as the preferred species, a decision that is supported by the NCA, and I am confident these new trees will uphold the grand boulevard character of Northbourne Avenue for many years to come,” said Minister Fitzharris.