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Death prompts concern for Avenue trees

Photo - Meg Kennedy

By Meg Kennedy

A century-old elm tree that struck and killed a woman in Melbourne last month has raised concerns regarding the safety of Bacchus Marsh’s Avenue of Honour.

The 106-year-old English Elm tree, believed to be planted in 1913 along Royal Parade in Princes Park, was of a similar species and age to those planted on the Avenue of Honour.

The Canadian and Huntington Elms that line the east entrance to Bacchus Marsh are just over a century old.

A spokesperson for Moorabool Shire Council told the Moorabool News in a statement that “ground and aerial inspections of all trees within the Avenue of Honour are undertaken on a three-yearly cycle by qualified arborists,” and that the trees “are also visually inspected after severe weather events.”

“The trees are inspected using the Quantified Tree Risk Assessment Method.

This method provides a decision framework which considers the balance between the benefits provided by trees and the levels of risk they pose.”

The spokesperson also said that Council “has recently completed a tree assessment within the Avenue of Honour and is currently programming remedial works to address defects identified, and undertaking tree removals where recommended.”

According to Moorabool Shire’s Urban Tree Management Policy, ‘tree removal may be required to ensure public health and safety, protect infrastructure, facilitate approved development and infrastructure improvements,’ and ‘trees will only be removed after investigation and assessed for removal by Council’s arborist, appropriately trained Council staff or a Council-engaged independent arborist on a ‘case by case’ basis.’

Council has replaced 49 trees along the designated and non-designated sections of the Avenue of Honour within the last decade.

Many of these were the result of trees being in poor condition or failures, and all were replaced by grafting new trees from existing trees.

“Council is also developing a Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour Management and Conservation Plan with the objective of ensuring the Avenue of Honour is effectively managed and enhanced into the future as a living memorial,” read the statement.

Associate professor Allison Milner died from her injuries after being struck by a tree in Princes Park at around 8.30am on Monday, 12 August.

She was taken to the Royal Melbourne hospital in a critical condition but died soon after arriving.