Botanist hired to help with study to save Gelorup from BORR

Ailish DelaneySouth Western Times

A South West environmental group has hired a botanist to help conduct a tree survey of the area proposed for the southern section of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road in the hopes of changing the outcome.

Perth scientist Dr Eddy Wajon spent four days last week with the Friends of Gelorup Corridor group teaching them how to properly conduct a scientific tree survey.

The group will use the data gathered to inform its submission to the Environmental Protection Authority when the eight-week public comment period for the proposed southern route opens in August.

Dr Wajon said the aim was to document old, tall, large, significant, cultural, interesting and habitat trees in the corridor.

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We were after ancient tuarts, old marris that had hollows in them for animals, particularly cockatoos, but also the biggest of a species, like Christmas trees and woody pears, to document the real environmental, cultural and aesthetic values of the trees in the corridor that were potentially going to be demolished.

Dr Eddy Wajon

The corridor is home to culturally significant scar trees and the two biggest West Australian Christmas trees in the country on the National Register of Big Trees.

“There are huge environmental values of both trees and other flora on that corridor — building a road will potentially destroy most of those values,” Dr Wajon said.

We are a bit like a watchdog making sure that the clearing is only what’s absolutely necessary.

Dr Eddy Wajon

As someone who has worked on different sides of road projects, Dr Wajon believed roads have become too big, with this as one example.

“The clearing footprint is way too big and the environmental impact is so huge,” he said.

“If projects like this go ahead, whether there are narrow footprints or as wide as I say, there needs to be much greater attention to compensation to the environment.

“WA is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. We’re called a biodiversity hotspot but we have so many threats that it’s just going — that is no longer acceptable.”

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