UPDATE 10.30am: CHILDREN from Alstonville School and their parents have arrived at the school to protest against the tree lopping.

The children and parents managed to briefly stop work by entering the school grounds, making it "unsafe" for the lopping to continue.

However, police have now arrived at the school to remove the "protesters".

 

 

 

 

UPDATE 9.30am: D-DAY has arrived for Alstonville Public School's condemned fig tree.

Workers have arrived at the school and are expected to start cutting down the historic tree within minutes.

The work comes despite a horticulturalist claiming he could save the tree and volunteering to do it for free. 

The tree was given to the school in the 1890s by pioneer Charles Bulwinkel and is believed to have been planted around 1895.

The fig tree at Alstonville Public School
The fig tree at Alstonville Public School

 

OFFER IGNORED: Horticulturalist Terry Prendergast has volunteered to work on the fig tree at Alstonville Primary School at no charge. The NSW Department of Education has not taken up his offer.
OFFER IGNORED: Horticulturalist Terry Prendergast has volunteered to work on the fig tree at Alstonville Primary School at no charge. The NSW Department of Education has not taken up his offer. Patrick Gorbunovs

6am: ALSTONVILLE horticulturalist Terry Prendergast is so confident he can save Alstonville Public School's historic fig tree that he is offering to do the work for nothing.

 

But it doesn't look like the NSW Department of Education will take him up on the offer, with a spokesperson confirming the removal of the tree would go ahead during these school holidays.

Mr Prendergast, who has been a horticulturalist for 40 years locally, disputes the diagnosis that the tree is beyond help.

But that was the advice the department received from an "independent arborist" about the 115-year-old small-leafed fig and the decision was made to remove the tree for safety reasons.

Mr Prendergast, the owner of Alstonville Tree Farm who was given permission to inspect the tree, said the fig just needed remediation work, which he estimated would cost, if he didn't offer to do it for free, about $5000.

He wrote to the department with his assessment and called for a reprieve for the tree, but received no reply.

"I think the tree is an asset for Alstonville, not just the students," he said.

Mr Prendergast, whose three children attended Alstonville Public School, spent two-and-a-half hours checking the tree last week.

His initial assessment included: the "aerobic" roots nearest the surface have been buried.

He suspects it may be infected with a treatable disease and remedial pruning of seven branches could be carried out.

"With the addition of fertiliser, mulch inside the root protection zone and aeration, I believe that it is possible to restore the tree to good health," he said.

"I am confident that I could have the tree back in full leaf by early spring."

His plea was that the department give him the time to do the extra testing needed to confirm his assessment.

Mr Prendergast completed remediation work on the tree in the 1980s.



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