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Latrobe Local News:
Tree removal provides a new environment for fish

The creation of a new habitat for fish in Lake Hyland, a new habitat for native birds in Lawless Road

By Latrobe City Council - 5th February 2002 - Back to News

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The creation of a new habitat for fish in Lake Hyland, a new habitat for native birds in Lawless Road, and a safer, vastly improved road surface for motorists may seem somewhat unrelated issues, but following some lateral thinking, all were achieved as a result of recent work by Council while undertaking sealing and road improvements to Lawless Road.

Latrobe City Mayor, Councillor Brendan Jenkins, said that while the construction plans for Lawless Road avoided the removal of vegetation as much as possible, a large eucalypt on top of a rise had been removed as part of the road improvement process, but was now serving a new and useful purpose.

"The tree would have created a significant safety hazard if left standing as the road alignment of Lawless Road which is being upgraded and sealed, would have to detour around the tree at a place where any vision of oncoming traffic is almost non-existent because of the hill," Cr Jenkins explained.

"That being said, there has to be a downside to the environment from the removal of a tree, and Council was keen to minimise any negative effects on the local environment.

Latrobe Cityís Parks Officer, John Ruyg, said that while seed from the tree was collected prior to its removal to grow seedlings which will be planted nearby, there were also concerns that the tree contained a number of hollows which could be utilised by nesting birds and mammals and the treeís removal would cause a shortage of habitat options for the local wildlife.

"As a first step, hollow branches from the tree which could be utilised by wildlife, were wired into nearby trees that are still too young to have developed good nesting sites," Mr Ruyg explained.

"However, rather than waste the rest of the tree, it was then transported to another location at Lake Hyland to be put to a new use," Mr Ruyg said.

"For some time field naturalists, anglers and Council have been concerned that fish in Lake Hyland have little protection against cormorants, and in spite of continuous stocking of the lake, fish numbers deplete rapidly. Quite simply there is a lack of shelter for fish in the lake, so the cormorants have open slather.

"The tree removed from Lawless road and all its branches has been placed in Lake Hyland along a stretch of exposed shoreline, where it serves as a reef with numerous hollows and habitable pockets where fish can shelter from predators and add to the aquatic environment of the lake. While this may not please the cormorants in the short term, Iím sure in the long term the increase in fish stocks will attract all kinds of waterfowl, the fish just wonít be as easy for the birds to catch as they are at the moment," Mr Ruyg added.

Councillor Jenkins said the initiative shown by Council staff was a classic example of thoughtful recycling and an excellent re-use of material. "An element of resourcefulness has been applied in this case which will benefit the environment in the long run. Itís never nice to have to remove a tree, but in this case there will eventually be positive new spin-offs for the environment from the demise of a tree," Cr Jenkins said.


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