Trees and Weeds in the Dandenong Ranges

WEEDS again proved a hot hills topic at a forum with State Environment Minister Gavin Jennings last Friday.

More than 20 representatives from Dandenongs environment groups questioned the minister on a range of green topics at Olinda Community House.

Greens candidate for Monbulk Jo Tenner, representing the Upper Yarra and Dandenongs Environment Council, likened the fight against weeds to tackling a cancer.

“You don’t say that you’ve cured three to five per cent of the cancer and stop the treatment,” she said.

“You actually have to take the steps, make the investment to treat 100 per cent of the cancer, then you can go on a maintenance regime.”

“But we seem to be in a situation where year after year we get drip fed, which really just doesn’t tackle the problem.”

Mr Jennings accepted an invitation from Ms Tenner to return to the region in spring to see the problem first-hand.

The 10/30 rule, which allows hills homeowners to remove vegetation within 30 metres of their house and trees within 10 metres, also came under fire.

Olinda Action Group’s Mark Ferguson asked Mr Jennings when and how these vegetation controls would be reassessed.

“At the time we were told very clearly when the rules were announced that it was going to be a trial,” he said. Mr Ferguson said many people were removing trees to improve their view rather than for fire safety, and the rule was likely to have a major effect on the Dandenongs.

Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group’s Anne Elizabeth said trees were being taken for granted.

“The 10/30 rule, in my opinion, devalues people’s perceptions of the Australian bush.”

Mr Jennings said many people had “heartfelt anxieties” about bushfire which he had to be respectful of in dealing with the 10/30 rule, but agreed a review was needed.

“We should measure its effectiveness and its appropriateness,” he said.


 By Casey Neill, Ranges Trader Mail 4th May 2010



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