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A 100-year-old spotted gum has been felled at Burekup primary school in an “act of environmental vandalism”

Craig DuncanSouth Western Times
Mac Moore watches as the tree he played under as a child is felled.
Camera IconMac Moore watches as the tree he played under as a child is felled. Credit: Craig Duncan/Craig D

The felling of a 100-year-old spotted gum tree at a Burekup school has been called “an act of environmental vandalism” by long-time residents of the town.

The Department of Education destroyed the enormous gum on January 22 stating the risk of dropping limbs was too great to keep the tree on the school ground.

Burekup resident Mac Moore said he petitioned against the tree’s removal to no avail.

“The authorities at the school have prevailed and the tree has been destroyed,” he said.

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“It’s an act of environmental vandalism.”

Department of Education executive director of infrastructure Rob Thomson said spotted gums were identified by the department as unsuitable for school sites in 2013 due to the risk of dropping limbs.

“The spotted gum tree, which is an introduced species to Western Australia, was dropping limbs with increasing frequency and unpredictability in the outdoor early childhood playground,” Mr Thomson said.

Mr Moore said he believes the tree was planted on August 7, 1917 along with 11 other saplings, and has memories playing under the tree as a child in 1945.

“That tree’s been there a lot longer than I have,” he said.

Mr Thomson said it was a difficult decision to remove the tree, however the safety of students, staff and the community was at the heart of their decision.

“Feedback was also sought from the school community, with the overwhelming majority prioritising the safety of students,” he said

“A search of heritage registers was undertaken and consultation with traditional owners also occurred.

“Considering the frequency and unpredictability of limb drops it was determined that retaining the tree was an unacceptable safety risk to students and staff.”

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