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Insurance policy leaves Arboretum's star attractions exposed

Unprotected by insurance... trees at the National Arboretum.

Unprotected by insurance... trees at the National Arboretum. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The ACT government has no insurance cover on the trees at Canberra's $67 million National Arboretum.

The territory says it has a policy of not insuring trees, but may be able to get cover for the Arboretum's forests by defining the growth a "significant territory cultural asset."

The site, to the west of central Canberra, was a pine plantation that burned in a bushfire in 2001, two years before the devastating blazes that destroyed 500 Canberra homes and killed four people.

The Arboretum, a project 10 years in the making, is to open on Friday with a dawn ceremony attended by ACT and Commonwealth dignitaries.

The project has cost taxpayers about $61 million, including a $20 million donation from the Commonwealth government. The total projected capital cost of the attraction is $67 million.

When complete the 250-hectare hillside site will have about 42,000 trees planted in 50 forests.

A spokesman for Chief Minister Katy Gallagher confirmed that the buildings and infrastructure were covered by insurance, but the all-important trees were not.

"The built assets at the Arboretum are currently covered through the ACT Insurance Authority," he said.

"Arboretum trees are currently not insured; however the government policy of not insuring its trees is being reviewed through Treasury and the ACT Insurance Authority, with a view to insuring the Arboretum forests. This is on the basis that the Arboretum is a significant territory cultural asset."

The government says it has taken the necessary precautions to prevent the Arboretum catching fire.

"TAMS [Territory and Municipal Services] Fire Unit and the Arboretum management have been regularly meeting to discuss fire management on and around the Arboretum site," the spokesman for Ms Gallagher said.

"The Arboretum is an intensively managed site where regular slashing keeps the grass height to well below 10 centimetres

"There is a 100-metre-wide strip directly against the boundary which has been fenced and additional water supplies installed to enable targeted strategic grazing to occur in this location.

"This strip has been burnt in the past to facilitate effective grazing on the fresh grass. A further fuel reduction burn will be conducted west of the Arboretum this autumn."

About $3.3 million has been allocated from the territory's annual budget to run the Arboretum and private fund-raising efforts are gaining momentum with 200 "foundation memberships" to go on sale this month for $10,000 each.

Ms Gallagher's office said it believed the Arboretum's ability to generate income would improve over time.

Visiting motorists will be expected to contribute, with car-parking fees at the site to be $2 an hour or $7 for an all-day space.

9 comments

  • "was a pine plantation that burned in a bushfire in 2001" So it makes sense to re-plant thousands of trees and millions of dollars in costing and not have it insured..... Only the ACT labour Government would be this stupid...

    Commenter
    Shogunmatty
    Location
    Reality
    Date and time
    January 31, 2013, 8:38AM
    • Yeah the trees should be insured - aren't there a few $12,000 trees up there (I believe someone thried to steal them a little while back). I'm a bit disappoint to here about the parking metres. I think the place so me promote as for hire as much as possible but I don't wnat to be paying for parking in a park.

      Commenter
      Tom
      Date and time
      January 31, 2013, 8:49AM
      • I will be the first to say that the Arboretum is a wonderful venue for tree and nature lovers and huggers but sadly the ACT residents and supportive business houses have missed out on massive tourism and economic opportunity because the ACT Government who had/have absolutely no product knowledge or inclanation to have same simply dropped the ball not even considering developing the rolling hilled and natural ampitheatre site into what would have been a magnificent multi motorsport complex the equal of many international venues.
        Sadly just another example of ACT Government two tiered citizen policy.

        Commenter
        Nitro Gangster
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        January 31, 2013, 9:11AM
        • But there's street racing every night in Canberra. Surely that's enough.

          Commenter
          Stir the pot
          Date and time
          January 31, 2013, 9:39AM
        • Geez Stir the pot, good one but as I would say you undoubtedly know that I am talking about real racers, real racecars and not the pumped up 10' tall and bullet proof wannabee's with no commonsense but, BUT at the same time these people have been let down badly, no, in reality simply discarded by successive ACT Liberal then Labor Governments.
          Good work you may not have stirred the pot, but you have stirred the gangster, cheers.

          Commenter
          Nitro Gangster
          Location
          ACT
          Date and time
          January 31, 2013, 10:27AM
      • All a bit weird really. Just as weird as the article in Saturday's CT about the whole thing being Stanhope's dream and he being the architect etc. I thought that it was ACTEW Chairman John Mackay's little baby and not a mention? For God's sake, it was part of the Griffin plan for the capital. You know we have to worry when the governing committee come out attempting to sell sponsorship memberships to the public. Nothing would have stopped the 2003 fire as it raced towards the suburbs and unfortunately it will happen again. That is mother nature. The truth here is that they probably can't buy insurance. Would you insure it?

        Commenter
        Grange
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        January 31, 2013, 9:49AM
        • The old school foresters that pushed the arboretum should have known better. The place has recently been burner in 2001, 2003 - the 2001 burn server as a buffer for the 2003 fire not to reach Black Mountain. Fuel management in the arboretum will serve no purpose - if a fire of a good size approaches from the west in a severe burning day all firefighting resources will be occupied protecting the live and property (hopefully we will have a earlier warning next time).

          With rising temperatures and forecasts of more severe burning conditions in the near future, how long will the $61m arboretum last? 5 years? maybe, 10 years? likely not.

          Commenter
          pyrogest
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          January 31, 2013, 11:16AM
          • I hope they review it very quickly!

            Commenter
            Deutsch
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            January 31, 2013, 12:31PM
            • Im sure if something happens , gillard will put a tax in place

              Commenter
              tristan white
              Date and time
              January 31, 2013, 12:55PM
              Comments are now closed
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