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Thursday, 12 September 1985
Page: 516

(Question No. 340)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice, on 29 May 1985:

(1) What measures does the Department of Terri- tories employ to ensure that the trees of Westbourne Woods, Yarralumla, are maintained and protected.

(2) What does the Department consider to be the historic and scientific worth of trees of the original arboretum and later plantings.

(3) Are measures planned to protect trees, especially the older trees of the arboretum, from possible future housing development and developments within the Royal Canberra Golf Club.

(4) Will the Minister for Territories ensure that any developer is required to publicly identify any trees intended for destruction before they are removed.

Senator Gietzelt —The following response has been provided to the honourable senator's question:

(1)-(4) The area commonly known as Westbourne Woods contains two distinct sections: the Arboretum, a collection of native and exotic trees and the Pine Plantation, a large block of radiata pines. These areas are entered on the Interim List of the National Estate as `Westbourne Woods'. An adjoining area of the Yarralumla Nursery and public parkland has been referred to as Westbourne Woods in the past.

The bulk of the area listed as Westbourne Woods is held under lease by the Royal Canberra Golf Club. An area on the eastern side of Westbourne Woods contains the buildings of the CSIRO Division of Forest Research and a small medium density housing development under residential lease.

The Department of Territories places high value on the need to maintain and protect trees and on the historic and scientific worth of all plantings in Westbourne Woods. The lease conditions of the Golf Club and development conditions of housing developers require that no tree is to be removed or damaged without prior consent of the Commonwealth. Proposals for the removal of trees likely to have a significant impact on the area also must be referred to the Australian Heritage Commission for comment. These conditions are strictly enforced.

An inventory has been taken of all trees in the Arboretum and the health and conservation status of each species has been evaluated as a guide to management and protection.

Thinning and tree surgery is carried out regularly to improve the health and safety of the older trees. Replacement and planting of additional species has been undertaken in recent years.

The Golf Club has been required to produce an approved development plan for any further course alteration. This will enable the Department to minimise conflict between the needs of the Club and future management of the Woods.

The Arboretum has proved to be an invaluable aid in predicting the performance of a wide range of plant species which might be used in the region. In addition, it is recognised as a valuable resource for the scientific study of trees and is widely used by organisations such as CSIRO and the Australian National University.

There are two areas within Westbourne Woods where approval has been given for the future removal of trees. These are: The Arboretum, to enable the final stage of housing development to be undertaken; and the Pine Plantation, for the construction of a further nine fairways for the Golf Club.

Developers must submit to the National Capital Development Commission detailed plans showing the numbers and location of trees intended for removal as part of any proposed development in Westbourne Woods. These plans are made available to my Department and the Australian Heritage Commission for comment.

In general it is not the practice of the National Capital Development Commission or the Department to make public, details of development proposals by lessees of Commonwealth land without prior approval by the lessee. However, because of the particular interests of the Canberra and South-East Region Environment Centre and the Westbourne Woods Action Association in this matter the Department has agreed to discuss the development proposals and draft Management Plan for Westbourne Woods with these groups.