An historic fig tree at Byangum (via Murwillumbah) will be removed in the coming weeks following the findings of an independent arborist firm commissioned by Tweed Shire Council to provide an assessment.

The arborist’s report backed the findings of the council’s Senior Arborist that the risk of heavy limbs dropping on Kyogle Road was high and the tree needed to be removed.

Council’s Manager Recreation Services Stewart Brawley said the council acknowledged the importance of ‘Hatton’s Fig’ to many in the local community.

“No one likes to see a tree of this age and historic value removed but the reality is that the tree is in a poor condition and represents a danger to passing motorists on Kyogle Road,” Mr Brawley said.

“The good news is that the council has managed to strike seedlings from cuttings and seeds at the council nursery so the tree can live on in a sense.”

Gold Coast-based consultants Terra ARK found that the small-leafed fig (commonly known as a strangler fig) was in poor health and ‘both the density and the volume of the live canopy was
significantly below levels that would be considered optimal for a tree of this age’.

The risk of harm from structural failure in the limbs of up to 450mm in diameter supporting the tree canopy above Kyogle Road was calculated at 1 in 1800 within the next year, which was significantly above the established acceptable threshold of 1 in 10,000.

Given the tree’s importance to the local community and the Hatton family and the high ecological value of such veteran trees, the independent arborist examined management options which did not
involved total removal.

“Although partial removal (of seriously compromised portions of the tree) would have the advantage of retaining some semblance of the original form of the tree, the observed active decay into the root crown and lower stem has undermined all of the north-western buttress roots and the lower stem structure critical for stability of the entire tree,” the report said.

The report recommended removing all branches, limbs and canopy structure of the tree back to a five-metre stump, retaining native vegetation at the base of the tree and removing weed species.