Warner Street rosewood trees ‘likely poisoned’


Karlie Brady


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A number of the iconic trees on Warner Street are in declining health and Council says they were "likely poisoned". Image: Karlie Brady.
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The Douglas Shire Council will continue to investigate after an independent arborist report found that a number of the iconic rosewood trees on Warner Street in Port Douglas were “likely poisoned”.

Last week, Council revealed it would commission an arborist to investigate after a row of trees, located on the eastern side of the street, had shown signs of serious stress over the past few weeks.

The arborist report looked at possible factors which may have contributed either directly or indirectly to the decline of the assessed trees.

“Symptoms were uniform and consistent in nature, indicating an event which has impacted upon all of the affected trees within a short timeframe,” the report stated.

A Council spokesperson said Council has sent samples taken from the affected trees to a laboratory for analysis “to accurately determine the details of any poison that may be present.

“The results of these tests will provide greater clarity around how the trees have been left in this state.

“Until the test results are retrieved, it is too early to speculate what may or may not have happened to the rosewood trees.”

The Council spokesperson said the report stated a number of trees were unlikely to recover.

“Council will continue to closely monitor the trees and do everything it can to give the affected trees the best chance of survival.

“Staff will also start exploring available options for mature replacement trees in the event some of the trees are unable to recover.”

It is not the first time the trees have faced issues. In 2019 a number of trees were also allegedly illegally poisoned.

While in 2018, concerned residents launched a petition to “save the rosewoods” which garnered more than 2,000 signatories after Council looked at options to upgrade Warner Street which included the removal of the trees.

After community outcry Council opted to follow an upgrade approach that would not interfere with the trees. 

Local residents and business owners on Warner Street have been left devastated by the trees decline in health, including Michael Joseph, owner of Deep Yoga Studio.

“I am totally devastated and I don’t understand what could be gained by someone doing this. I don’t know how anyone could benefit from this,” Mr Joseph said.

“They are iconic, they add value and are a point of difference.

“I kept a close eye on the development of Warner Street to make sure the people involved took special care around the trees, which they did.

“They were very good about making sure there was minimal interference, so I don’t think this has anything to do with that,” he said.

It is an offence under Council’s Local Laws to damage or interfere with vegetation on Council-controlled land and significant penalties apply.

The assessed trees will be maintained by Council in coming weeks to ensure there is no threat to public property or safety.

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