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Esplanade trees are struggling

26 Apr 2016

Esplanade trees are struggling Image

The avenue of Norfolk Island Pines lining Harbour Esplanade at Docklands is struggling only five years after they were planted.

Designed to be a major landscape element and bring seaside character to Docklands, the trees appear to be failing to thrive.

There are approximately 170 Norfolk Island Pines on Harbour Esplanade and Docklands News counted around 16 dead or dying trees last month, or around 10 per cent.

The remaining trees are sparse, and lacking full canopies despite being planted years ago. There is also a notable difference between trees situated on the harbour side compared to the city side of the Esplanade.  

Docklands News counted four dead trees on the city side of the esplanade and 12 dead trees on the harbour side.

The City of Melbourne is responsible for monitoring and managing the trees and a spokesperson said the council was aware of health issues in some of the trees and had been working to determine the cause.

“These trees were planted in a confined growing area, similar to that of a planter box. This was due to the existing concrete infrastructure under the road restricting the amount of suitable soil for growing Norfolk Island Pines,” the spokesperson said.

“It is always a challenge to grow vegetation where soil volume is limited.”

The spokesperson said council had audited the irrigation system and established that an adequate water supply was being provided to the trees.

“We are also testing the soil structure to establish nutrient levels and whether salinity may be a contributing factor.”

Both City of Melbourne and Places Victoria were involved in the process of selecting the trees for Harbour Esplanade.

Places Victoria general manager Simon Wilson says the organisation sought horticultural advice on which tree species to plant along Harbour Esplanade in 2009.

“Norfolk Island Pines were identified as a species suited to coastal environmental conditions where wind, salinity, airborne salt and drought are present,” Mr Wilson said.

“The pines were also selected because they have the ability to provide shelter from the wind and sun on maturity.”

“Norfolk Island Pines form iconic avenues at a number of waterfronts around Australia, including Manly, Botany Bay and Robe. It is envisioned these trees will contribute to our vision for Harbour Esplanade to become an iconic waterfront too,” Mr Wilson said.

“Less than 5 per cent of the trees have been replaced since planted in 2011. With any planting of advanced trees it can be expected that not all will take to the local environment.”

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