Journalist’s background: I’m putting together a story about the cost of environmental vandalism for local governments. I’m aware of a couple recent quite serious (and costly) examples and want to gauge how widespread the issue is.
Please attribute the following quotes to City of South Perth Mayor Sue Doherty.
Is environmental vandalism a persistent issue (are there hotspots, for instance where trees may block river or ocean views, that are regularly hit) or does it tend to occur sporadically in random locations?
There has been a pattern of harm to trees on the South Perth foreshore, with multiple incidences in 2017.
How much did your local government spend on fixing environmental vandalism in 2016-17?
While the City allocates funds to repair acts of environmental vandalism, it can be difficult to calculate the exact cost as ongoing maintenance costs as well as loss of amenity value should be considered.
Has your local government successfully prosecuted anyone for environmental vandalism in 2016-17? If so, how many people and what penalties applied?
Yes, the City has successfully prosecuted for environmental vandalism with fines applying.
If you have any recent particularly serious cases of environmental vandalism can you please supply details of the kind of vandalism (e.g. a dozen trees poisoned at a local park) and how much it cost to rectify?
In June 2017, the City of South Perth has experienced an incident of willful damage to a tree on public land. In this instance, a mature plane tree, estimated to be over 70 years old and 20 metres tall was vandalised with what appeared to be a chainsaw.
Located on the South Perth foreshore, close to the Mends Street jetty and gazebo, the prominent tree was so badly damaged at its base that it presented a public safety risk.
The City had no option other than to remove the tree, which has an estimated amenity value of more than $200,000.
The City filed a report with Kensington police and requested CCTV footage from the Department of Transport and local businesses. The City also contacted the Department of Parks and Wildlife for assistance with the City’s own investigation.
The stump of the tree has been left in place as a reminder of this extreme act of vandalism and a replacement tree was planted nearby in place the plane tree that was vandalised.
The City is committed in its efforts to fight against damage to trees and protecting South Perth's beautiful natural environment. Tree vandalism destroys the local amenity and costs ratepayers thousands of dollars each year.
The incident follows the poisoning of a mature Eucalyptus tree, also in Sir James Mitchell Park on the South Perth foreshore in January 2017. In that instance, the poisoned tree was replaced with four Eucalyptus trees.
It is an offence under the City’s Public Places and Local Government Property Local Law (2011) and the Local Government Act (1995) for unauthorised persons to prune, remove or otherwise deal with any tree which is under the care, control or management of the City.
There are substantial penalties for the unlawful destruction of vegetation. Vandalising the City’s trees is an offence that will be dealt with through the courts.
Records are kept of the 28,000 plus trees in the City of South Perth and the City continues to replant and maintain trees in response to blatant vandalism.
In some instances, where there has been a history of tree damage the City installs metal trees to highlight to residents and visitors that trees in the area have been poisoned, ring barked or cut down by persons unknown to the City.
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