Giving a fig about Byron trees

TO CHOP or not to chop.

That’s the dilemma facing Byron councillors, who will today decide the fate of two fig trees in Byron Bay’s main street.

The trees, on opposite sides of the pedestrian crossing between Railway Park and Fundies Food Store in Jonson Street, are ripping up the footpath with their roots, creating a tripping hazard for pedestrians and casting a shadow over the crossing. The fruiting trees also attract bats, creating health and hygiene concerns.

A report has recommended the trees go, and the issue is likely to create some heated debate at today’s council meeting.

There is fierce opposition from some in the community, who say there are better options than giving the trees the axe. A spokesman for the Byron Environment Centre said the trees were an important part of the street’s ambience. They provided shade and were a popular spot for buskers.

He said a better solution would be to control the growth of the roots to prevent further damage to the road and footpath.

But Byron Shire Council asset management services director, Phil Holloway, suggested removal was the kindest option for the trees.

“Unfortunately, fig trees are not a suitable type of tree for a location with high intensity pedestrian, car and parking activity,” he said.

“In order for the figs to achieve their full potential, substantial works would have to be undertaken involving the removal of road area, footpath space and car parking. If the trees were to remain without doing this, the alternative is to undertake regular and major trimming, resulting in them never reaching their full potential.”

Mr Holloway said the trees were planted in the 1990s and council’s heritage adviser had not raised any concerns about their removal.


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