Local residents eager to learn more about the current health of the trees in the Avenue of Honour attended community information sessions held in Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale on Saturday 24 October.
Council has now completed Phase 1 of the project to raise awareness regarding the results of the tree assessments, sharing the key findings from the consultant’s report and to keep the community informed of the immediate tree management actions (which includes the removal of 3 trees over the next 2-3 years and immediate tree pruning).
The objectives of the Tree Management and Replacement Plan was to determine the extent of the Avenue, conduct an existing tree audit and maintenance plan, consult with the community regarding the condition of the trees and to develop an implementation timeline for tree planting and tree management.
The two information sessions were well attended, with 25 residents meeting to hear from Homewood Consulting in Queenscliff and 14 residents in Point Lonsdale.
Homewood Consulting provided a detailed presentation which reviewed the health of all existing trees along the Avenue and provided details as to their current condition and Useful Life Expectancy.
The consultants also provided advice about the maintenance and management of existing trees to ensure public safety and to protect the health of the Avenue and individual trees.
Tree audit and health check
Mature Monterey Cypress line both sides of the Bellarine Highway through the Narrows towards Flinders street. Clearly there is more than one age class, and there is some conjecture over the definitive extent of the Avenue of Honour.
Homewood Consulting used historical aerial photography to define the age classes and to determine as to which trees were planted when and ultimately, which trees formed part of the original Avenue of Honour planted in 1918.
The original 1918 plantings for the Avenue of Honour were said to run “from the foot of Convent Hill” westward, “towards the Point” and Homewood Consulting were able to view aerial photographs from the 1920s and 30s which confirmed this.
50 trees were originally planted which went all the way up to Smith Street on both sides of the road, today 32 remain and you can see in the presentation on Council’s website where these trees are located.
The Flinders Street trees first appear in aerial photographs taken sometime between 1940 and 1950.
These trees are not part of the WWI Avenue of Honour; however there are remains of concrete bases at some of the trees providing strong evidence that they were commemorative plantings. A local resident recalls planting these trees as a young schoolboy in 1945 as part of a school Arbor Day. The timing of the plantings suggests they may have been related to soldiers who fought in World War II, although this is uncertain.
Originally it appears there were 29 trees on both sides of Flinders Street, 12 of the original 29 remain today.
5 Monterey Cypress were planted either side of where the entrance to the Marine
Discovery Centre is now located, sometime between 1945 and 1950. Any historical associations regarding these trees are presently unknown.
Current impacts to the Avenue
All trees go through a natural life-cycle of establishment, growth, maturity, decline and eventually death and many of the Avenue of Honour trees are approaching the over maturity phase.
Since the initial plantings, adjacent residential land has been subdivided and crossovers and associated root compaction and damage are a particular problem for the Flinders Street trees and some of the Avenue of Honour trees. The location of these crossovers will impact the ability to replant in some areas and species
selection will be important to reduce conflict.
Unfortunately, pruning for power line clearance has the potential to substantially alter the form of a tree and can open the tree up to pest and disease complications. High and low voltage power lines are present on the southern side of Flinders Street, and
now significantly impact the ability to replant and recreate the avenue effect in this area for both the Flinders Street trees and the Avenue of Honour. The current location of overhead services will also have a substantial effect on species selection. Options to consider include undergrounding or bundling the powerlines.
There is no cure for Seiridium Canker and in significantly affected trees, replacement with either known tolerant cypress species or other unrelated plant species may be the only long-term option. Unfortunately there is no proven cure for this disease and while the plant is still alive the only real treatment option is to optimise growing conditions. This means making sure the trees are at maximum health.
At present it appears that the disease is progressing slowly through the mature trees in Queenscliff, with most trees just beginning to ‘brown off’. This is due to a combination of factors which are favouring disease resilience including site conditions and the generally mild climate experienced in Queenscliff. If Monterey Cypress is used to replant trees in Avenue of Honour, there is strong evidence to suggest that they will not be ultimately successful.
Borough of Queenscliffe Mayor Helene was pleased that local residents were so clearly interested in participating in planning for the future of the Avenue of Honour.
“This is great news for the Borough that the project has keen community interest and a genuine desire to build a plan for the trees that reflects it’s significance to our local history and to honour the local soldiers who fought in WWI,” Cr Cameron said.
“Council and Homewood Consulting will now undertake Phase 2 – Benchmarking and host community workshops in the new year to progress this important project,” Cr Cameron concluded.
A full copy of the presentation is available below.