16 September 2023

Multi-year funding newest front in fight to save historic trees

| Claire Sams
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Trees by the river

Erin Moon said the hope was the project would see seven historic trees protected from further human influence. Photo: Supplied.

As summer draws closer and people turn towards the outdoors, a Bega environment group is implementing its plan to protect historic trees from harm.

Bega River and Wetlands Landcare (BRAWL) has partnered with NSW Crown Lands for BRAWL’s latest project to rehabilitate the Bega River.

Community coordinator Erin Moon said the group, which formed in 2006, had carried out past works in the area.

“Now, what we have is another grant,” she said.

“This project is primarily focused on armouring this area of the Bega River against natural disasters linked to climate change, and to help the area adapt to a changing climate.”

In September, several timber bollards will be installed at the end of Auckland Street, adjacent to Bega River Reserve.

Ms Moon said the move was intended to protect seven trees, which were at least 200 years old, from human influence.

“Cars are driving over roots, damaging them, and also causing large incisions on the riverbank and lots of erosion,” she said.

“Those incisions undermine the riverbank and mean there is a potential of collapse.

“This aim of this particular project is to use bollards to discourage the vehicles from driving around the base of the trees.”

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Ms Moon said the site on the Bega River was chosen because of the age of the trees and their role in the natural world.

“There are number of them that are along this stretch of the Bega River that are in excess of 200 years old,” she said.

“They feature as part of the writings of George Augustus Robertson, one of the early explorers in 1844 – he wrote about these river oaks lining the river.”

An aerial photo showing the locations where the bollards will be installed.

An aerial photo showing the locations where the bollards will be installed. Photo: Supplied.

These trees also have significance for animals, Ms Moon said.

“They provide homes like a multistorey skyscraper does for humans,” she said.

“The roots have a really important role in binding the bank sediment, which means they help to hold the structure of the riverbanks steady.”

Ms Moon said the bollards were intended as part of a longer-term strategy to support the Bega River.

“We want to protect the trees over time, because under a changing climate, we’re looking at not only an increased frequency of natural disasters, but the intensity of them.

“We really need to make sure that riverbanks are as secure as possible by deep-rooted vegetation that can hold and stabilise the bank.”

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The program was made possible through a multi-year funding grant from the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust program.

“We would not be able to undertake such ambitious rehabilitation projects without that longer-term funding,” Ms Moon said.

“That allows us to progressively undertake much larger activities, because we can do the follow-up work required to make sure that our activities have been successful.”

Ms Moon said past conservation works on the Bega River had had a clear range of impacts on not only the natural environment, but also the Bega community.

“From an environmental perspective, it’s been a profound change and improvement,” she said.

“Following rehabilitation works, the residents of the Bega Valley have really turned towards sites on the river.

“People come in to utilise this space now.”

Ms Moon said the placement of the bollards would not interfere with landowner access.

“This is a spot where there is a historic right of carriageway for the landowner between their property on the north and south sides of the river,” Ms Moon said.

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