Lane Cove Council Investigating Tree Vandalism at Woodford Bay Longueville

    Photo Credit: Councillor Kathy Bryla

    Lane Cove Council has reported the worst act of environmental vandalism in Lane Cove history with the illegal removal of between 50-100 trees and 100’s of other plants and shrubs from Council-owned bushland.

    The incident occurred on the environmentally sensitive foreshore of Woodford Bay in Longueville.

    Updated:  Lane Cove Council has now confirmed the following:

    “Council’s bushland team were tasked with fully cataloging and photographing each tree removed. This process concluded that the number of trees removed was approximately 285, far greater than originally reported. The tree species included, Eucalypts (incl Angophora), Banksia, Casuarina (high density vegetation), and others. The affected area comprises land upon which the trees and vegetation removed formed part of what is understood to be and Endangered Ecological Community that is recognised by both Council and the NSW Government.  Council has been contacted by NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) and is liaising with them in relation to potential future actions”

    Lane Cove Council was made aware of this incident late last week and immediately launched an investigation.

    Mayor of Lane Cove, Councillor Scott Bennison, is appalled by the incident.

    “I’m sure I speak for all in our community in saying the mass destruction of trees at this scale is outrageous and the culprit needs to be prosecuted to the full extent possible.” Mayor Bennison said.

    Investigations are well advanced in identifying who is responsible, however investigations are continuing.

    Damaging or removing trees illegally is a serious offence. Lane Cove Council staff have already been liaising with Council’s lawyers and subject to legal advice, will be seeking prosecution in the Land & Environment Court.  Typically local councils do not take offenders to court due to the cost and resources involved in managing a court prosecution.

    A maximum on-the-spot fine of $3000 can be issued for illegal removals by an individual or $6000 for businesses.

    The Land and Environment Court can impose fines of up to $ 1.1 million, plus a daily fee if the offence continues. The offender may be directed to plant new trees and vegetation and maintain them till they mature.

    Staff Documenting Tree Loss

    Staff have already commenced documenting and mapping every tree that has been removed to ensure that appropriate information is provided to assist in the legal process.

    Photo Taken by Councillor Kathy Bryla. Councillors Bryla, Kennedy and Southwood inspected the site over the weekend


    Lane Cove Council has a tree plotter.  The Tree Plotter is a comprehensive online tree inventory and database of local street trees. The database also allows Council to monitor the age, health and general condition of trees in the area as well as map the distribution of tree species. This vital information will assist Council in its management of trees and in determining locations for future planting sites.

    Lane Cove is known for its bushland setting, making this large-scale act of tree vandalism a complete contradiction to the community’s values.  Nearly every resident is within 500m of bushland.

    Lane Cove Council cares for and manages approximately 90 hectares of bushland. Council has been increasing the amount of open space in the area through the creation of new parks and the recent acquisition of more bushland for preservation. More than 20 local Bushcare groups spend thousands of hours each year contributing to bush regeneration.

    Lane Cove Council said residents can be assured every effort will be made and the strongest possible action will be taken.

    Photo Taken by Councillor Kathy Bryla. Councillors Bryla, Kennedy and Southwood inspected the site over the weekend

    The ABC captured drone footage of the area that was vandalised – see it here.

    Bushcare Group

    The Woodford Bay foreshore area has been the focus of bush regeneration with the Woodford Bay Bushcare group meeting every 3rd Sunday.

    Photo Taken by Councillor Kathy Bryla. Councillors Bryla, Kennedy and Southwood inspected the site over the weekend

    Previous Tree Vandalism

    Lane Cove has also seen some tree destruction, with trees killed in Austin Street Lane Cove (read more here) and around Tambourine Bay Reserve.

    in December 2022 a notice of motion by Councillors Bryla and Kennedy noted:

    “Since 2019 there has been an escalation in the number and severity of bushland trees being killed by those other than our official arborist approved council means. The impact is leaving large gaps in our natural bushland in certain locations.

    One such location is the bushland at Tambourine Bay Reserve. The trees killed by unknown persons since 2019 are: 30 – 40 Pittosporum undulatum (Sweet Pittosporum), 7 Angophora costata (Sydney Red Gum), 2 Ceratopetalum gummiferum (Christmas Bush), 2 Ficus sp. (Fig Tree).

    In the past there have also been poisonings in Manns Point, Woodford Bay Reserve, Holloway Reserve and Shell Park. These actions of tree killing are not only destructive andd illegal but rob our next generations of the benefits of the nature bushland. Our council team are working hard and tirelessly to try to stop this form of vandalism but are fighting a tough battle. This motion recognises the council teams passionate and dedicated efforts to protect and save the bushland trees.”

    Reward by Willoughby City Council for Tree Destruction

    In August  this year Willoughby City Council launched a comprehensive investigation into a large scale tree vandalism event along Willowie Road under the Environmental Planning and Asssessment Act 1979.

    Under this authority where a person is found guilty of an offence involving the destruction of or damage to a tree or vegetation, the court dealing with the offence may, in addition to the recording of a conviction and imposing a substantial financial fine also direct that person to plant new trees and vegetation and maintain those trees and vegetation to a mature growth.

    Council rangers are actively pursuing leads and currently conducting a thorough investigation in an effort to gather vital evidence and engage with the community for information.

    As part of an awareness campaign, banners will be erected in strategic locations to raise awareness about the severity of the tree loss and its impact on precious wildlife.

    Willoughby Council urged anyone with information related to this incident to assist with our investigations.

    Willoughby Mayor Tanya Taylor said that the community’s commitment to safeguarding our environment has always been solid.

    “The Council bushland staff, members of our community and I are saddened to see the destruction caused by this blatant act of vandalism.”

    “We will continue to work together to preserve the natural beauty and biodiversity that makes Castle Cove such a cherished place for all,” Cr Taylor said.

    A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for any information leading to a successful prosecution of those responsible.

    To report and incident or if you have any information please contact Willoughby City Council on 02 9777 1000 or email us [email protected]

    Tree Vandalism is Theft

    An article in The Conversation claims that this is not only vandalism but theft on a large scale – read more here.

    Cover Photo:  (ABC News: Gavin Coote)

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