Council targets tree vandalism

Council signs warning against tree vandalism at St Helens Reserve. (Supplied)

By Luke Voogt

The illegal poisoning of two trees in Rippleside has prompted a new council campaign putting vandals on notice.

Council recently installed signs near the site of the vandalism at St Helens Reserve in a bid to deter offenders and obtain information on the illegal activity.

The measure aims to reduce the number of attacks on Geelong’s trees, according to councillor

Anthony Aitken, chair of council’s city works, parks and gardens portfolio.

“Trees are a highly valuable asset and any deliberate vandalism of them impacts on the wider community,” Cr Aitken said.

“We would like the community’s help in protecting our trees and would appreciate any information in relation to attacks on them.

“Trees are defenceless members of our community, especially newly-planted ones. Please love and keep an eye out for our trees and help them grow.”

Council officers, local workers and volunteers planted 43 trees in the reserve in 2020 in a community-led project supported by a federal government grant.

Council plans to plant more than 2500 trees across greater Geelong this year, and its Urban Forest Strategy aims to increase the city’s canopy from 14 to 25 per cent over 30 years.

Cr Eddy Kontelj described the environmental, social and health benefits of a vibrant urban tree population as “huge”.

“Our trees provide shade, cool our public areas and improve the feel and liveability of the region,” Cr Kontelj said.

“We want to create a larger and more diverse tree network to improve canopy cover in our streets, open spaces and reserves.”

Cr Kontelj warned that council officers would investigate tree vandalism and pursue prosecution against any offenders.

“It’s not OK or acceptable for anyone to be vandalising property or assets, whether they belong to a community member, or they are publicly-owned,” he said.

He urged residents to report any vandalism or suspicious activity regarding trees by phoning 5272 5272.