The collapse of a twenty-six metre Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Sydney’s Hyde Park has sparked an immediate call to action for the City of Sydney Council to assess the park’s five hundred and fifty trees, to ensure public safety. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the tree fell near the intersection of Elizabeth and Pitt Streets near a busy bus stop, and narrowly missed falling onto two women with prams on the footpath. While emergency services were called to the site, no-one was injured, and the tree was removed by cranes and cut up later that day. Lord Mayor Clover Moore requested an assessment of every tree in Hyde Park “just hours” after the incident, which resulted in thirty-four trees being fenced off, and the removal of two more trees in later days. As reported in The Daily Telegraph, the fallen tree had been due for removal as part of what is to be a multi-million dollar plan to fix the problem of disease in Hyde Park’s trees. An independent arborist report on the park’s trees in 2006 identified that the tree that fell this month would need to be constantly monitored, as a result of a soil-borne disease that began affecting trees approximately a decade ago.
As the manager of Hyde Park, the Council has a duty to minimise risks associated with fallen trees. As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, they have recently conducted three independent assessments of the trees. The assessments suggested that the only option to reduce the risk to public safety in the park is complete removal of potentially hundreds of trees, and treating the soil. Arborist Karen Sweeny said that it could be years before the park would be “back to normal”; however the council’s approach will be a worthwhile preservation of our central Sydney landmark.