CLARENCE Valley Council has been accused of "butchering" a government-funded natural rainforest patch at Grafton's Corcoran Park.
Ecologist Greg Clancy said he was "shocked and disgusted" to see the council crew hacking at the trees on Tuesday. The clump was planted by Clarence Environment Centre members 15 years ago.
They had collected seeds from Susan Island, then propagated and planted them to provide a natural rainforest remnant to replace a small part of the thousands of hectares cleared for settlement on the Clarence River floodplain.
Dr Clancy was told by workers at the scene the "trimming" was being done for the good of the trees.
"I questioned the need to 'trim' the trees near ground level as about 10 trees were cut down to near ground level," Dr Clancy said.
He said he was most upset the Clarence Environment Centre had not been consulted.
The centre's honorary secretary, John Edwards, described the move as "disappointing".
"We have noticed this type of action being under- taken time and again by council. The stand of trees between Bi-Lo and the Gwydir Highway, being one such vandal attack and I suggest staff need to reassess their management of native vegetation," Mr Edwards wrote in an email to the council.
"We will discuss with members what action is appropriate, but perhaps council can look at some compensatory plantings in the interim."
Council director of works Troy Anderson rejected the suggestion the trees had been "butchered".
He said it was part of a normal pruning program to remove dead wood and eliminate branch hazards.
He said the works had been carried out by quali- fied staff to Australian standards and the trees that were removed had die-back rot and other damage.
He said the council wouldn't normally consult on its annual maintenance program as it was just "part of council's duty of care".
Regarding the work done at Bi-Lo, Mr Anderson said it had been done to allow for visual surveillance due to frequent vandalism.
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