PICS and the community are still in mourning at the loss of vegetation including the iconic Blue Gum tree at the proposed transit centre. PICS were not successful in requests to Council to redesign the Transit Centre to save the Blue Gum.
PICS is pleased that Council is reacting to community concerns and those raised by PICS from their destruction and showing willingness to work with PICS and the wider community to improve the environmental outcomes and safeguards in the future.
Council agreed with PICS to temporarily store the large sections of the Blue Gum to be available for future opportunities such as furniture or sculptures for the Cowes area. Council also agreed to collect seeds from blue gum to provide to PICS and the Barb Martin Bush bank for germination. Council has fulfilled these two initial commitments.
Council has also agreed to revisit the landscape plan and increase the number of plantings arising from the transit centre development, so it is significantly above the legal offset requirements. This will include further plantings of a least 20 blue gums in a location to be agreed with PICS. PICS welcome community input into the location of the additional plantings.
Jeff Nottle President of PICS stated ”In the aftermath of the destruction we are pleased with the initial response from Council and PICS is now focused on ensuring that safeguards are put in place for the future to save our remaining significant trees. We as a community need formal safeguards to prevent Council or other authorities from removing iconic tress that contribute to our environment and provide essential habitat for our wildlife.”
“We have commenced discussions with Council regarding the implementation a Significant Tree Register and Environmental Assets Fund for Phillip Island. We believe the register needs to identify remnant other significant trees on Phillip Island and place a sizeable monetary value for significant trees in addition to their legal offset value to act as a disincentive to their destruction. This process must include input from the community.”
Jeff Nottle added: “In the future, should a significant tree on the register be removed its monetary value needs to be paid to the Environmental Assets Fund, managed independently of council and used solely for the protection, enhancement and investment in environmental assets on Phillip Island.
Equally important is to change the mindset of Council to ensure future projects are based on designs that incorporate biodiversity sensitive designs. Designs that do not include biodiversity sensitive features are simply not acceptable today as we face ongoing climate change challenges and loss of our natural environment.”