TWO significant manna gums previously protected because they were on public land have been chopped down as part of development works in King St, Hastings.
After thriving for 80-100 years the remnant gums were destroyed in a few hours, Thursday 18 August.
The alarm was first sounded when the Mornington Peninsula Shire-owned land was listed for sale in March. It had previously been used as a walkway between two streets and as an informal carpark for a nearby supermarket.
The trees were regarded as an attractive feature of the landscape. Such large specimens, in good health and with no visible structural faults, are rare in an increasingly built-up environment, such as Hastings.
Birds and wildlife frequented the trees, which had several nesting hollows. An application was made to the National Trust in April to recommend that the larger of the two be added to the Significant Tree Register. A reply had yet to be received.
Most of the larger tree had already been lopped last week by the time the resident was alerted. A hurried call to the shire’s customer service area and a discussion with the planning department revealed there are no vegetation protection overlays for Hastings.
“Nominating individual trees is seemingly impossible,” said the resident, who did not wish to be named. “It is disappointing that the council would sell off such a block for short term revenue-raising when this type of remnant tree will never again have the chance to reach its full potential.
“This block could have been available to all as a passive walkway: now it will no doubt be blocked off to all as it is developed.
“A beautiful and valuable natural asset has been lost forever.”