Tree dispute intensifies
By TOBY WALKER
A STRETCH of council-owned land at Chatsworth Island is at the centre of a dispute between residents over the alleged poisoning of trees along the Clarence River.
Uwe Erfurt, a 67-year-old retiree to the village, believed a number of trees near his property had been poisoned in what he called an act of 'environmental vandalism'.
He claimed a local resident had lopped the branches off some trees and poisoned others, including a section of casuarina and hibiscus trees, along a sec- tion of riverbank land between the North Arm Road and the war memorial, between February 19 and 21.
The unnecessary removal or poisoning of trees to obtain better views, particularly in coastal areas, has prompted the Clarence Valley Council to appeal to residents to report such destructive acts.
"This is our area, it's everyone's to enjoy," Mr Erfurt said.
The man accused of the land clearing denies killing any casuarina or hibiscus trees.
He said he had been motivated to remove some branches from the trees after they had begun to encroach on the road- side.
He claimed one of the offending branches almost knocked him from his tractor as he left the road to make way for traffic. As for the poisoning accusations, the man said he had used poison to kill some camphor laurels and nothing else.
The man said he told a ranger as much when he received a visit following a complaint made to council.
Mr Erfurt, a self-confessed conservationist, disputed the man's denial.
"I've planted thousands of trees in my time and I didn't see any camphor laurels or lantana there," he said.
Following a complaint, council Director of Environment and Planning, Rob Donges, confirmed an environmental officer would visit the site to carry out an investigation to determine whether there had been any breach of council land clearing regulations.
"If we believe the work was done to benefit the person who did it then we will consider taking action but if the work was done by that person with a view to assisting council in maintaining the land then that would also be taken into account and no action would be taken," he said.