An ancient Moreton Bay fig tree at the heart of the community’s cultural heritage has been felled in order to accommodate the Sydney Light Rail Project. The tree commonly referred to as the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ is located on the corner of High Street and Wansey Road in Sydney, Australia.
More than 50 locals and concerned bystanders braved the cold last night to make their feelings known. They gathered at the scene with signs and banners condemning the decision to remove the tree “for no real reason”.
Residents said the tree’s removal was “sneaky” because they were told the final word on the tree’s fate wouldn’t be given until November this year.
Former mayor of Randwick Council Tony Bowen said he was “very upset” the tree was getting the chop and even more appalled it was happening under the cover of darkness. He said: “The council was told the tree was safe until November to give UNSW and transport NSW time to find an alternative that would protect the historic tree.
“And now on a Sunday night in the middle of the school holidays, it’s being taken down.”
A Facebook page set up by action group Save Sydney’s Trees was used to try and notify as many residents as they could. Protester Beth Taylor said she thought it was no coincidence the tree had suddenly been chopped down. He said: “If Malcolm Turnbull didn’t announce he had won the election, this project wouldn’t have gone ahead.”
UNSW Student Alexandra Auhl said the entire community would be grieving the loss of the tree. She explained: “There is something very special about this tree for students walking to campus.”
Two arborists started to chainsaw branches off the 25m high tree from a cherry picker at 7:30pm on Sunday. Police were on scene calming down the boisterous mob and monitoring the traffic diversions put in place around the area.