"Environmental vandals" cut down 100-year-old trees on land at East Maitland

CRIMINAL: Maitland Greens Jan Davis, resident Dennis Thurlow and Cr Don Ferris with the remnants of what is believed to be a 100-year-old  tree. Picture: Simone De Peak.
CRIMINAL: Maitland Greens Jan Davis, resident Dennis Thurlow and Cr Don Ferris with the remnants of what is believed to be a 100-year-old tree. Picture: Simone De Peak.

About 30 trees, many aged between 80 and 100 years old, have been cut down for what is believed to be commercial gain, in a sick act of vandalism outraging local residents and Maitland Greens.

According to locals the illegal logging has been ongoing on the Maitland City Council-owned land for about two years and has been reported to council.

But the destruction doesn’t stop there. The site, off Mt Vincent Road at East Maitland and ironically only a few hundred metres from the tip, is also a haven for illegal dumping of not only rubbish, also cars.

Maitland resident Dennis Thurlow has documented the vandalism and contacted Fairfax Media is a final bid to stop offenders.

What has upset him most is the destruction of endangered mature ironbark trees, some more than a metre in diametre, in what is known as an ironbark and spotted gum forest.

He believes the trees are being cut up and sold for firewood.

“I reported all of this in September 2016 and got emails and diary entries from council,” he said.

Across the road on land owned by a mining company, the destruction has also been occurring.

“There are a lot of other trees in this location but it is predominately ironbark and spotted gum which all provide a whole eco system supporting a variety of things including animals, rare birds like honeyeaters and plants,” Mr Thurlow said.

“I’m disappointed council hasn’t sealed off a track leading into the area,” he said. “I’m concerned about their lack of action on environmental vandals and not removing an old car that’s burnt out there after they told me they would take it away.”

Mr Thurlow said he had not heard the sound of chainsaws recently but a walk through the area recently had left him horrified.

“People have to be aware that they can’t just see a tree in the bush and chop it down.

“It’s really ruthless and they think they can just go ahead and do it because no one else is saying anything about it,” he said.

Mr Thurlow said he caught two people aged in their 20s, cutting down trees on the mine company’s land.

“I told them it was private land and they couldn’t do it and they left,” he said. “The amount of wood taken in the last week in the other area most certainly had to be for a commercial business. It’s more than just a resident taking it,” Mr Thurlow said.

Cr Don Ferris, a horticulturalist, who inspected the site this week said he will be asking council to intervene. 

“Not only are the culprits damaging this increasingly rare ecological community, they are stealing firewood and trespassing. Some of the trees that have been dropped and chopped up look to be 75 to 100 years old,” he said.  

“This area is close to Mount Vincent Waste Facility and is also used for illegal dumping. Council has a large parcel of land here that is difficult to limit access to.

“Investigating future waste levy grants might help cover the cost of installing a more durable fence using steel bollards,” he said.