FACING THE CHOP: Jane Gardiner, Julie Davis, Tina Kelly, Tamsin Jackson and Mandy Burdon would like to see an effort made to save the historic fig tree (at rear) in the grounds of the Alstonville Public School.
FACING THE CHOP: Jane Gardiner, Julie Davis, Tina Kelly, Tamsin Jackson and Mandy Burdon would like to see an effort made to save the historic fig tree (at rear) in the grounds of the Alstonville Public School. Cathy Adams

Parents fight to save tree

A LARGE fig tree in the grounds of Alstonville Public School is unwell, but a group of parents are not prepared to give the much-loved old tree its last rites yet.

And that's because of the historical significance of the 115-year-old tree which is facing the chop.

Author Foreman Crawford, in his book Duck Creek Mountain now Alstonville, writes the small-leafed fig was gifted to the school by pioneer Charles Bulwinkel and planted in the late 1890s by a local resident, Edward Ponton.

It is believed it was planted after the original school was destroyed by fire in 1895.

Generations of students have played under the tree - and recently, it has been called the "Avatar tree" based on the fictional tree of life in that popular movie.

But the Department of Education is planning to remove the tree, based on an independent arborist's report.

A department spokesperson said, that "it is not possible to prevent it dying naturally and decaying further."

Mandy Burdon is leading the campaign to try and save the tree.

She said - as did the department spokesperson - that safety of students at the school is the number one priority. Students currently can't play under the tree.

"But the decision has been taken that the tree has to be removed without trialling any remediation," she said.

"This is something that belongs to the community, not the department (of education).

While the parents say they were disappointed with the lack of consultation in the decision process, the department spokesperson said the decision to remove the tree had been communicated to the school's P&C and at a school assembly, and only one complaint had been formally registered.

The department spokesperson said the school intends to replace the fig with a fast-growing mature tree.

The tree is not heritage listed.



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