Concerns over tree poisoning

Poison was injected in the base of the tree, leaving a blue stain.

A landmark gum tree in Kenilworth will have to be cut down after it was poisoned.

Paul Barker, of Harfield, alerted the City after noticing the tree in Wessels Road was not doing well.

A City horticulturist inspected the tree, which is about 25m high and 75 to 100 years old, and confirmed it had been poisoned.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health Dr Zahid Badroodien said: “Several holes were drilled around the base of the tree and a herbicide injected into the holes, leaving a blue stain.”

The tree was dying and would have to be removed before it posed a danger to the surroundings, said Dr Badroodien.

Harfield Village Association chairman James Fernie said that while gum trees were exotic and could be an inconvenience, the association did not condone the illegal poisoning of trees.

“We have long proposed that indigenous trees be planted that would not pose any safety risks.”

There have been reports of trees being poisoned in other parts of the city, and Dr Badroodien said the cases were worrying.

“It indicates the lengths some will go to, to destroy trees that play such a vital role in the ecosystem and urban landscape.”

The chairwoman of Kenilworth non-profit, Treekeepers, Clare Burgess, said it was worrying that someone would consider poisoning any sort of street tree.

“Once the tree has died, it becomes a high risk item which the City needs to budget for in terms of removal using ratepayers’ funds, and a tree of this size will require specialist tree workers to take it down and this will be very expensive.”

Ms Burgess said Treekeepers encouraged the public to adopt trees in their streets.

“Promoting the benefits of trees in the urban forest is the best way to educate people and encourage custodianship.”

Friends of Harfield Parks (FOHP) committee member Gail Brown said many people didn’t appreciate the importance of trees.

“I have seen dozens of trees cut down in our neighbourhood over the past few years, and each time people make light of it as it’s just one but it adds up to the tree canopy of Harfield Village.”

Dr Badroodien said the poisoning of the tree was a serious matter, and the City would investigate to hold the culprit accountable.

“We would like to thank members of the community who reported these incidents. We can only act swiftly if the community works with us and reports any destruction, vandalism and poisoning of trees.”

If you have information on the poisoning of trees, email the City Arborist at arborist@capetown.gov.za or call the City’s emergency number by dialling 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.