Wind blows fig pruning plans

WET and windy weather has brought a halt to plans to significantly prune the giant 117-year-old fig tree which stands in the car park of the Chinderah Tavern.

A spokeswoman for the Taphouse Group which owns the tavern said the weather made it too dangerous to prune the tree, a move the company's tree consultant says is needed because of the risk of huge branches falling.

The move has alarmed some residents who last year waged a campaign to prevent the tree being removed.

Tweed Shire councillor Katie Milne fears significant pruning could kill the tree.

But the Taphouse spokeswoman said concerns about the pruning had been blown out of proportion because two competing tree consultancies had different views.

She said the company was determined to save the tree.

"The tree is very important to us. We see it as a major asset," she said.

She emphasised the company had liaised closely with Tweed Shire Council over the proposed pruning and had "gone through every single process we could with the council".

The company's website also makes a feature of the tree, saying the tavern is "watched over by a beautiful old Strangler Fig tree, planted in 1894 to commemorate the birth of the then-owner's son.

"Standing over 35m in height this magnificent tree has provided shade and shelter to all who visit the Chindy. "

Cr Milne said she believed the owners were looking to prune off up to 60% of the tree.

"They are intending to do some severe pruning - 30 to 60%," she said.

"I've been advised by the consultants council previously that would be a disaster.

"I've been making some desperate phone calls."

Cr Milne said when the council held an extraordinary meeting on the future of the fig tree late last year, prompted by a proposal from the owners to remove it, the council decided not to place a heritage protection order on the tree following an undertaking from the owners that it would be saved.

"The owner made a commitment he wouldn't take it out," she said.

"This further pruning is of really great concern and would spell the death of the tree."

In August last year protests to save the tree prompted an urgent council meeting and a guarantee that the giant fig would not be knocked down before further discussions with the council.

A series of arborist reports on the tree was also sought.



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