July 17 - 23, 2016: Issue 272

Residents Appalled at Extent of Tree Lopping of Pittwater Park's Norfolk Pines 

Residents Appalled at Scale of Branches Lopped from Norfolk Pines in Pittwater Park 

Residents of Palm Beach have expressed dismay this week at the amount of branches that have been cut from the row of Norfolk Pines in Pittwater Park, Palm Beach.

“These are heritage listed trees and we saw no Heritage Officer attending while tree loppers took so many branches from these trees that people using the area will have much less shade this coming Summer,” a resident remarked, “it will be hot, uncomfortable for visitors.”

“This is an appalling and unnecessary destruction of these iconic trees,” remarked another, “there is a clear path for access to the seawall for repairs required at the southern end where there is a space between the pines. This is Crown Land – who authorised this?.”

The gap between Norfolk pines at southern end of Pittwater Park

A Norfolk pine in Pittwater Park showing branches removed

When contacted regarding the concerns expressed to this news service, Northern Beaches Council, Deputy General Manager, Ben Taylor stated, 

“Council has undertaken essential pruning of the Norfolk Pine trees to ensure the safety of children in the playground and the public. This pruning has been planned for some time and was brought forward due to damage to the branches in the recent storms. The works were also necessary to reduce any further risk of damage to the trees during the repair of the seawall. The long term health of the trees is a priority for Council and the work was carried out in accordance with arboricultural best practice under the guidance of a tree specialist and in accordance with Australian Standards.”

The Pittwater Park Draft Plan of Management (2002 – not ratified or commenced) states on page 11: ‘Pittwater Park is Crown Land administered by the NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation. It is designated as Crown Reserve No.R60988.

Pittwater Council was appointed manager of the “Pittwater Park (R60988) Reserve Trust” on 20th September 1996.’

Page 37-38, under ‘Objectives for Management’ lists:

'To protect and enhance the heritage landscape values of Pittwater Park through proper arboricultural management of the existing Norfolk Island Pines on the site;’

Page 41-42:

The heritage significance of the Park comes from the heritage listed row of Norfolk Island Pines on the southern foreshore area. This species constitutes a significant component of the cultural landscape of Pittwater and an important visual element of Pittwater Park. The Pines are to be retained and managed for their long term health. Replacement planting should be included as a component of the management of the tree group. Opportunities for judicial additional planting of the species on the reserve should be explored in the masterplanning process.’

Under Desired outcomes (page 43):

• Retention of the existing landscape character and continued improvement in the quality of the landscape resulting in a unified and attractive setting for the range of recreational opportunities offered by Pittwater Park. 

• The heritage listed row of Norfolk Island Pines is properly managed for its continued vigour and contribution to local landscape quality. 

• The broad views of Pittwater are retained and preserved in the ongoing development of the Park. 

• Reduction in the dominance of carparking as a visual element in the park

Norfolk Pines Araucaria heterophylla are endemic to Norfolk Island. They were planted all along coastal regions during the 1920’s to 1940’s as ornamental shade providing trees in hot summers as part of ‘beautification’ programs that were then undertaken. In good conditions Norfolk Island pines will live for 100+ years and attain heights of over 40 metres with a canopy spread of over 15 metres. In optimal conditions they will live for 150 years. 

The lifespan of the Norfolk pine means many of those in Pittwater will need to be replaced within the next few years if they are installed to retain the provision of shade through the growth of a substantial canopy. 

As stated by those commissioned to write the Draft Plan for Pittwater Park state, ‘Replacement planting should be included as a component of the management of the tree group. Opportunities for judicial additional planting of the species on the reserve should be explored in the masterplanning process.’

Lopped branches will sprout regrowth – aborists recommend they be pruned in late Summer or Autumn.

Regrowth on Norfolk pine - owners of these trees on private properties often lop lower branches to promote lawn growth right to the trunk: these fronds reappear annually and will replace former branches if not pruned - these take several years to regain original scale of branch and can ruin symmetry of the tree's conical shape.

This document may be accessed at: www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/5126/Draft_Pittwater_Park_POM_August_2002.pdf 

In other news associated with Pittwater Park, footpath works as part of new Pedestrian 40 km zone for this stretch of Palm Beach were completed this week.

In May Pittwater MP Rob Stokes announced $194,000 in NSW Government funding to help improve pedestrian safety at Palm Beach. 

The plan to introduce a new 40 km/h High Pedestrian Area in the vicinity of the main commercial precinct on Barrenjoey Road is widely welcomed by residents and visitors to the popular Pittwater Park.

The project will involve new signage and road changes to help alert motorists to pedestrian activity and assist with speed management throughout the area. 

“Palm Beach is becoming increasingly popular and changes are needed to help improve pedestrian safety around the commercial precinct,” Rob Stokes said on May 11th. 

“The major upgrade of the Palm Beach Ferry Wharf last year means more and more people are visiting this incredible part of our community. 

“Additional measures are needed to encourage motorists to slow down, watch out for pedestrians and help improve safety throughout the area.”

New pavement works completed alongside Pittwater Park and to Palm Beach Ferry Wharf this week.

Report and Pictures by A J Guesdon, 2016.