Eight rosewood trees to get the chop on Warner Street

Iconic trees poisoned

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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It's easy to see which of the street's Rosewoods were poisoned
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Douglas Shire Council, acting on the advice of arborist reports, will remove eight Rosewood trees on Warner Street in mid-November following a toxicology report which confirmed a number of the iconic trees were poisoned.

In a statement today, they said if pruning work is not successful in improving tree health during the wet season, further removals may be required.

Council has 12, six-metre-high Rosewood trees at its Port Douglas Depot which will be used as part of a tree replacement program. The removal represents about 10% of the street trees.

And while Council has not been shy to share the arborists’ reports, it has been decidedly less pro-active in establishing how the trees were poisoned and even offering a reward for identifying the perpetrator/s. Council did suggest they may file a police report.

What we do know is that laboratory tests revealed concentrated traces of chemicals called Dicamba and Metolachlor OXA in samples taken from the leaves of impacted trees.

These chemicals are found in a variety of common herbicides and can be purchased from hardware and agricultural suppliers.

Newsport approached Council for comment on whether they knew of who is responsible (for the poisoning) and if not, is there any likelihood of this being known; would Council consider offering a reward if information is provided; has Council made every effort to find those responsible, if in fact, the findings point to human intervention; and did they file a police report?

At the time of going to press, Council had not responded to our questions.

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Meanwhile, in their report to Council, dated 18 October, 2021, arborist Arbor Assessment Advice and Landscaping Solutions, said in its recommendation: “Our recommendation is to remove approximately four trees marked with four blue dots on the footpath side of the trunk.

“The remaining trees will need the canopy structure delicately reduced to the point of sap flow; this is generally 40-60 percent. During the reduction process it is absolutely imperative to not knock the new regenerating shoots off the retained wood. In some areas these shoots are 20-50ml.”

Council also did not respond to a reader’s observation, who offered the following: “Not sure why people are jumping to the poisoning scenario when the 2018 Cardno report to Douglas Shire Council re: Warner Street's problems indicates that the aged drainage structures and kerbing could impact on the survival of the Rosewood trees planted in Warner Street.”
Dr Hugh Spencer

Newsport readers may well remember scientist Dr Hugh Spencer poisoning coconut trees on Myall Beach in 2014 in order to promote the growth of native species prevalent on Cape Tribulation Beach.

Dr Spencer at the Australian Tropical Research Foundation (Austrop) and his colleagues poisoned several adult coconut palms on the beach with injections of the herbicide Roundup.

Dr Spencer said he and his colleagues did this in order to limit the effect the palms had on native Aus-tralian species.

The Newsport report from July 25, 2014 said: “His activities soon stirred up a bit of tension both with local tourism operators and the Douglas Shire Council.

“He has since stopped targeting the trees while council conducts its Coconut Palm Management Strat-egy, which aims to map every coconut palm from Cape Tribulation to Wangetti.

“Everyone’s gotten a bit emotional and over-excited about the whole issue,” Dr Spencer said.

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