Dying trees at Subi college building site spark fears for Gallipoli memorial pines
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Dying trees at Subi college building site spark fears for Gallipoli memorial pines

Two protected pines bordering the Subiaco Inner City College building site appear to be dying, sparking fears for neighbouring Aleppo pines sown in the 1920s with seeds sent from Gallipoli to remember those killed in World War I.

The row of pines.

The row of pines.

In 1924 Alexander Bruce, then curator of parks and gardens for Subiaco council, sent Australian native seedlings from his nursery to the Imperial War Graves Commission at Gallipoli.

These became the first Australian plantings among the graves of fallen Australians in Gallipoli and remain there today. In exchange, Mr Bruce received a number of seeds from Ansea, Gallipoli, including  the Aleppo pine seeds sown and raised in Kitchener Park.

Subiaco residents alarmed about the appearance of two pines along Subiaco Road contacted local arboriculturist Jonathan Epps. He confirmed the two were in decline but told WAtoday on further inspection he had determined these two were maritime pines, not the Aleppos.

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Yellowish green colouring in the Aleppos was a natural feature of that species.

Both varieties, however, are covered by a tree protection order from the City of Subiaco.

Mr Epps could not confirm the cause without further investigation.

But the trees turning brown are on the boundary of the building site and a new concrete driveway and transportable construction offices have been placed near them. They have also had a mobile coffee vendor parked beneath them.

Other trees subject to the protection order, around the corner on Coghlan Road, were afforded some protection at ground level by metal temporary fencing, residents said.

It is almost a year since the state opposition called on the government to provide assurance that the row of pines would be protected during construction of the new high school.

Member for Nedlands Bill Marmion will put a question on notice to Education Minister Sue Ellery in Parliament on Wednesday asking what is being done.

"I visited on site ... I know the council have been out there too. One tree looks absolutely dead," he said. "All the foliage is yellow. Another looks like it’s starting to die off."

The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority is responsible for the entire Subi East redevelopment area, of which the college and Mueller Park are part.

City of Subiaco chief executive Rochelle Lavery said the City had commissioned an arborist to undertake an analysis of the trees.

In the meantime, staff had provided advice to the MRA to ensure the trees were protected through tree preservation zones and appropriate watering.

An MRA spokesman said the authority was aware of the City’s tree protection order.

"While this does not apply under the MRA’s redevelopment scheme, the MRA did require the Department of Finance to prepare a Tree Protection Plan, in consultation with the City of Subiaco, prior to the commencement of construction," he said.

"While the trees are located outside the Inner City College construction site and are separated from the construction by site fence, the Department of Finance did consult an arborist prior to construction commencing, who has also been undertaking site visits.

"A Tree Protection Plan, as required by the MRA development approval, is in place and is being implemented by the Department of Finance.

"The Department of Finance, MRA and the City of Subiaco have inspected the site and are working together to ensure appropriate measures are in place to ensure the ongoing protection of the trees."

Public comments recently closed on the concept plans for the wider Subi East area. Master planning will commence in late 2019.

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Emma Young covers breaking news with a focus on science and environment, health and social justice for WAtoday.

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