Tree-hacking probe continues

A row of trees in Jim Hardy Park, Dandenong were illegally chopped down in front of neighbouring homes. 391963_01 Picture: GARY SISSONS

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong Council continues to investigate the unauthorised hacking down of a row of trees in Jim Hardy Park.

The vegetation was chopped to about waist-height in the public reserve in Foster Street East, Dandenong.

The former trees used to stand in front of a neighbouring residential fence.

Community strengthening director Peta Gillies told a 25 March council meeting that officers were “in discussions” with residents in the area.

“However it’s not an offence under the new tree protection local law.

“We’re investigating in in regard to the damage-to-council-assets local law.”

The new tree-protection law was endorsed by the council in December. It applies to trees on private land.

Meanwhile, the council has received admissions to the unauthorized removal and replacement of a native ornamental flowering gum on a nature strip in Foster Street East.

A series of the gums were planted on the area’s nature strips by the council in 2019.

According to the council, one was removed due to poor health and replaced by an exotic tree species.

“Council officers are now determining the outcome for the new-planted nature strip trees.”

This matter was also not being prosecuted under the tree-protection by-law but instead as damage to council assets, Ms Gillies said.

“Under our local laws, residents are not permitted to plant, prune or remove nature strip trees,” a council spokesperson recently told Star Journal.

“If a resident is found to have damaged a Council asset (which includes trees and vegetation in public spaces), we will investigate and take necessary action.”

The spokesperson said street trees and park vegetation provided important benefits such as shade, amenity, reducing pollution and providing wildlife habitat.

“Greater Dandenong has one of the lowest tree canopies in metropolitan Melbourne at just 9 per cent.

“Council has identified the lack of street and park trees in our municipality as a major concern and we want to protect those existing trees while also planting more.”

To report people damaging or removing trees on public land, go to