DEAD: Gatton hobby gardener Ken Stenhouse estimates more than half the 3500 tress planted in the Lockyer Creek near Gatton are dead. PHOTO: Dominic Elsome
DEAD: Gatton hobby gardener Ken Stenhouse estimates more than half the 3500 tress planted in the Lockyer Creek near Gatton are dead. PHOTO: Dominic Elsome

It’s cheaper to re-plant than revive dead trees: Councillor

THE numerous green tubes that dot the Lockyer Creek bank at Gatton look almost like rows of gravestones.

To Gatton hobby gardener Ken Stenhouse, that's exactly what they are - graves.

In March, 3500 trees were planted along the creek bank near the Gatton railway bridge as part of the Council of Mayors' Resilient Rivers Initiative.

The trees were planted to stabilise large soil benches in the channel and prevent soil erosion during future rain events.

But seven months on, and Mr Stenhouse claims the site has been a failure.

"I would estimate at least half of them are already dead, probably more," Mr Stenhouse said.

The dry weather has taken its toll, with row after row of tube stock sitting dried and dead.

He said there clearly hadn't been enough water provided to the plants from the two water tanks installed on the site, and there were simply too many trees planted.

"It is very disappointing, because anybody that's a bit of a gardener will know that if you plant a tree in dry times like it is, you've got to probably water it twice a week," he said.

"I reckon they would have been better off planting a quarter of them, and looking after them and getting that to survive."

The trees were planted by volunteers and Mr Stenhouse wandered how they would feel seeing the state of them plants.

"If they come and have a look at it, they'd be severely disappointed," he said.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council Environment Portfolio Cr Rick Vela said this project was funded solely by the Resilient Rivers Initiative Catchment Investment Program and was not paid for by the council, nor ratepayers.

The project is managed by a contractor who is contractually obliged to achieve a 90 per cent survival rate.

"The contractor has committed to achieving the 90 per cent survival target and will undertake replanting in late summer, following suitable rainfall and soil moisture conditions," Cr Vela said.

"Replanting will be completed at the contractor's cost and no additional funds will be provided to the contractor to achieve this target."

The site requires water to be trucked in for the two water tanks onsite, and Cr Vela said this meant it was more financially viable to let the trees die.

"The cost of watering to try and revive trees that are mostly dead is far more than the cost to replace the plants," he said.

"This is the contractor's commercial decision."

In total, 14,500 trees were planted along the Lockyer Creek, and Cr Vela said the site at the bridge was the only one experiencing issues.

"The ongoing dry conditions, coupled with high winds and the exposed, western facing aspect of the site have made it very difficult for the contractor to keep the trees alive," he said.


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