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”.
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