Club keen to tee off on plan

The club says some trees are a risk, such as this one which dropped a branch in February. But many more are slated for removal for greens upgrades.

MOUNT LAWLEY Golf Club has paused a draft masterplan to remove 550 trees and widen its fairways, but is itching to get started on a scaled back project involving 63 tree removals.

MLGC is a members-only golf course on public land that Stirling council leases to the club for $13,640 a year, lower than the market rate which was last year valued at $25,000.

Over the past couple years the club has been replanting a large number of native shrubs and smaller-scale trees set well back from the fairways, but in that time they’ve also removed 69 non-endemic trees that were planted along the fairways about 60 years ago.

While the original draft masterplan for a complete course overhaul is shelved for now, the club wants to undertake more modest piecemeal upgrades in the short term and remove another 63 trees. 

The club says 30 of those trees have been deemed a safety risk, but 32 are healthy trees slated to be removed for a “Greens Replacement Program”. That means they’re either in the way of course upgrades, have nuisance roots or drop leaves on the course, are sucking up a lot of water intended for the grass, or causing “excessive shading of greens”. 

Five of the trees they want to fell are native to WA and the bulk are from other states, including gum trees stretching more than 20 metres tall. 

Under Stirling council’s policy, trees on public land can’t be removed just because they’re a shady inconvenience or a leaf-dropping nuisance.

Despite that Stirling council staff have recommended the council approve 41 out of the latest 63 tree removal requests, including “22 trees [that] are considered necessary and reasonable for the redevelopment of the course greens”.

Healthy

Leisha Jack is convener of the pro-greenery group Stirling Urban Tree Network, and pointed out to us via email: “You can’t remove a healthy tree on your verge because it is ‘exotic’ or for any other reason because it is city land and they won’t let you. 

“It seems the rules don’t apply to private golf clubs.”

Ms Jack spoke at the December 6 Stirling council meeting imploring them not to approve any more tree removals. She said it’s great that the club’s worked to regenerate some of the older bushland areas set back away from the courses, but it’s “regenerating bushland that they allowed to become degraded” in the first place. 

Cr David Lagan moved a motion to defer any tree removals until the club finishes its draft masterplan and shows council what they’re intending in the long term.

His motion said no further tree felling should go ahead without council approval for now, with the exception of “unsafe trees likely to result in imminent danger and catastrophic loss”, as approved by council tree staff.

All councillors save for mayor Mark Irwin agreed to deferring any more tree felling.

“We need a bit more oversight,” Cr Lagan said, and if the club gets started 

on works without council seeing that masterplan “it is my belief there could be increased loss of mature trees.”

by DAVID BELL

One response to “Club keen to tee off on plan

  1. I am a one of the 30 volunteers at the Mount Lawley Golf Club who concentrate on bushland regeneration and a member of over 20 years.

    Your piece last week needs clarification.

    Mount Lawley Golf Club sits on 79 ha of land equally split on WA state-owned land, vested to the City of Stirling who are the lessees, MLGC is the sub lessee.

    This is a golf course that has won the WA Golf Award for Environmental management for 2020 and 2021 so the last two awards for all golf clubs in WA therfore the leader in the state.

    For a golf club to survive, it must have decent fairways and greens. The club spent considerable money in 2016 to put in new reticulation and a lake that now many water birds call home. This was to make water use more efficient. In 2028 a 10% cut will come to all water users in Australia as stated by the federal government.

    Arbor Carbon, an organisation whose motto is “creating sustainable ecosystems “prepared a report for the club in 2021 and surveyed 2020 trees. 43% of MLGC golf course are non-endemic.
    The major problem trees are River Redgums, Broad Leaf Paperbark (Qld and NSW) Maritime Pine if diseased or in the middle of native bushland, Tasmanian Blue Gums and South West Peppermint that is not endemic to the Swan Coastal plain. These trees are high water users.

    As Leisha Jack of the Stirling Urban Tree Network states on her website, Our mission is to help educate the public about the importance of urban trees, especially in our warming and drying climate.

    Deryn Thorpe, an eminent, award winning gardener on her website states, “The right tree in the wrong place is a weed.”

    We are trying to redress this warming and drying problem by planting sustainable, site specific trees and understory flora that will use water wisely. MLGC has planted 1740 trees so far in the last 3 years. We have another 4 years on our revegetation plan to go. A total of 10 000 plants so far with a success rate of 93%. We have about another 14 000 plants to put into this ecosystem.

    We have planted Tuart, Marri, Coastal Blackbutt, Sheoak plus various banksia species; Menzeii, Attenuata, Grandis, Prionotes, Ilicifolia being the main.

    If we cut down the River Redgums for the greens redevelopment it equates to 0.32% of those on the course. We are not cutting down whole swathes of established trees. There are hundreds of non-endemic trees with about 9 other species we are not cutting down as they have limited impact on the golf course but do contribute to the ecosystem positively.

    To achieve a successful golf course and also create a sustainable ecosystem, we must cut water use and to do this some water guzzling trees must go and be replaced by the correct flora for this region. MLGC is leading the way. As a member of the WA Naturalist Club originally joining in 1966 but still a member. I know something of environmental ecosystems.

    We hope the detractors of MLGC course can understand science and the co-existing reasons why these certain tree species must be removed.

    Greg Ash, Mt Lawley

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