Gerroa Rd tree clearing begins but Bum Tree gets brief reprieve
THE Bum Tree at Gerroa has been given a short reprieve.
Despite clearing work starting around the location on Gerroa Road, it appears the iconic tree won’t be removed until the middle of next week.
Contractors from A and D Tree Services have been working in the location all week, clearing trees from the edges of the road as part of a Black Spot funding initiative by Shoalhaven City Council.
Council received federal government funding to widen Gerroa Road at the intersection with Beach Road and plans to remove a number of trees, including the Bum Tree.
Work started at the southern end of Gerroa Road on Monday, moving north towards the Beach Road intersection.
On Thursday morning, work moved to the northern side of the intersection, with contractors starting at the boundary with the Kiama Municipality and working south, removing undergrowth and trees on the eastern side of the road.
Members of the Gerroa Environmental Protection Society (GEPS) have mounted a vigil at the site, unfurling two glider possum banners adjacent to the Bum Tree.
The group scored one minor victory with a decision made to reduce the width of the clearing north of the Beach Road intersection from six to five metres.
But the area 200m north of the intersection will be cleared to six metres, which means the Bum Tree on the western side of the road will still have to be removed.
Some variations have also been made to the clearing works south of the Beach Road intersection with widths of clearing varying between 4.5m and 6m.
GEPS president Warren Holder said the clearing around the Bum Tree was the group’s worst fear.
GEPS has voiced serious concerns for an endangered greater glider population discovered in the area, whose numbers have been diminishing along the South Coast.
“The clearing is pretty hard to take, it’s distressing,” he said.
“We’ve had great support since we have been sitting here over the last week. The support is uplifting.”
One lane of Gerroa Road was closed as workers undertook the clearing, with alternate lane flows put in place.
GEPS members took the opportunity to talk to motorists waiting in the traffic line, handing out information about the area and the petition to save the Bum Tree.
Mr Holder said the reduction of the clearing width, albeit for only a small section of the road, was a win.
“We’ve been told the Bum Tree and the other big trees around it would be removed next week,” he said.
“They play a vital role in the whole area surviving.
“People see those two trees, and in particular the Bum Tree, as the jewel in the crown. It is 400 years old and provides a lot of habitat.
“We as a group are not anti-safety and even if they take out the trees we still believe the speed limit in the area needs to be reduced.
“And we will continue to battle for that.
“I still don’t understand why council can’t see that lowering the speed limit in the area can have an influence on how the road is used.”