Council is set to consider cottonwood tree management options following the recent completion of an independent study.
Sunshine Coast Council engaged Place Design Group to investigate the characteristics of cottonwood trees, their distribution, growth patterns and values, between Victoria Terrace, Shelly Beach and Westaway Terrace, Currimundi following community concerns about vegetation maintenance in the area.
Division 2 Councillor Tim Dwyer said the native cottonwood tree was a particularly hardy and robust plant and, if not managed, had the capacity to dominate an area given its invasive growth characteristics.
The study presented five options for ongoing cottonwood management.
Cr Dwyer said the attributes of specific locations needed to be carefully considered when assessing future management options.
“Any future management programs that aim to improve the community and ecological value of an area will consider such things as urban park amenity, native fauna and flora habitat, ecological enhancement, dunal or bank stabilisation or providing dark beaches for nesting of endangered loggerhead turtles,” Cr Dwyer said.
“The first two options of the study were either doing nothing or continuing current maintenance regimes. The other three options included starting maintenance where it is not currently occurring, replacing an individual cottonwood with another native species, or replacing a cluster of cottonwoods with another native species.”
Cr Dwyer said council has investigated the feasibility of carrying out pilot projects that involved increasing maintenance and replacing both an individual and a cluster of cottonwoods.
The pilot projects are proposed for two locations adjacent to the Shelly Beach car park.
“The first proposed pilot project involves targeted priority pruning of cottonwoods along the park access road. Reducing the density of the cottonwood trees by pruning and lifting the canopy, will improve amenity, safety and traffic outcomes,” he said.
“The second site identified for a pilot project is next to a toilet block where a small number of cottonwood trees could be removed and others pruned to lift the height of the canopy ensuring an open feel that discourages anti-social behaviour.
“In an effort to reduce the monoculture of cottonwood trees in this location and improve both the safety, ecology and the amenity of the area, council will replace the cottonwood trees with other suitable native species.”
He said council would engage with the community prior to starting any works to better manage cottonwood trees, in line with the independent study recommendations.
Cr Dwyer said the study allowed council to consider vegetation management options that would lead to improved ecological and community outcomes into the future.
“We’ve heard from experts in landscape design, Queensland vegetation classification, arboriculture and terrestrial and marine ecological sciences,” Cr Dwyer said.
He said the pilot projects would be programmed later this financial year subject to the outcomes of the necessary planning and community engagement.
The outcomes of any maintenance undertaken will be monitored by council and will help inform future cottonwood management decisions. The cottonwood can dominate other native species if left unmanaged, so prudent management can lead to a better overall quality and balance of the natural landscape.
Details on the outcomes of the study are available by visiting council’s website at www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au and searching for ‘cottonwood tree study’.