Byron Bay Norfolk Pines

Byron’s Norfolk Pines

In November last year a hailstorm hit Byron Bay. The Norfolk Island Pine trees Araucaria heterophylla that are so much a part of the character of Byron were severely affected. The most intense part of the storm passed through the western end of Shirley St. The hail was accompanied by strong wind from the south and this blew the hail sideways.

I assessed the trees for Council in January this year and found that a number of the trees had sustained significant damage to the branches and trunks of the trees. The hail had damaged the vascular system of the branches and more particularly the trunks of the trees. Pine trees do not recover well from large areas of damage of this sort particularly on the trunks of the trees.

Most of the trees had produced new shoots in January but because of the damage to the trunks
this new growth has not survived. There are about a dozen trees that have completely or partially died. These trees are not likely to fall over but rather fall to bits over time, dropping branches. This becomes a safety issue. While the risk from the trees should not be overstated it is obvious that the trees that have no chance of recovering to be viable and safe will have to be removed.

What now? Well, nothing can be done for the trees that have died. What is important is that the spectacular avenue of trees that is so significant to Byron is maintained. We need to replant and replace the trees that have died. A new planting will see the avenue back in shape in just a few years and into the future. There are approximately 20 trees that have been removed over the years and with the ones that have died recently 30 new trees could be planted in Shirley St. Even though Norfolk Pines are not a local native species, there is a strong argument for retaining the character of Byron by using them for the succession planting. They are salt tolerant and well suited to the sandy soil. As we know they also grow into amazing, huge and beautiful trees.

Published in The Byron Shire Echo. 9th September 2014.

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