Hundreds of plastics tree guards washed away in creek
THEY were meant to be an innovative way to stop soil erosion, but a tree planting scheme in the Lockyer Creek has become an ecological disaster following recent heavy rain.
Last year, the Lockyer Valley Regional Council planted 17,000 plants along the banks of the Lockyer Creek, thanks to funding from the Resilient Rivers Taskforce’s Catchment Investment Program.
It was hoped the trees and plants would help to minimise erosion during future floods.
But nearly a year after the trees were plant, plastic shields installed around the trees were still in the creek when the recent rainfall event set the creek flowing.
Gatton resident Glen Petfield voiced concerns about the plastic shields earlier in the year, warning they could be washed away if heavy rains occurred.
And that’s exactly what happened.
“I can’t say exactly how many there were, but it looked like, you know, 1000 or 2000 in the bottom of the creek that washed away,” Mr Petfield said.
This is despite the council pledging in early February the contractor managing the project would remove the shields before the water levels in the creek affected them.
Environmental Management Portfolio Councillor Rick Vela recognised the issue and said the heavy rains had taken the contractor unaware.
“We acknowledge that despite our previous assurances, the contractors were caught out by the rapid rise in the level of Lockyer Creek, and some of the tree guards were washed downstream,” Cr Vela said.
“Guards had been removed from plants believed to be most at risk of flooding as the rains commenced, however the creek rose faster and higher than anticipated.”
He said any guards washed away had been retrieved “where safe to do so”, and the remaining guards were captured in a weir and will be retrieved later and are able to be re-used.
But Glen Petfield said the plastic shield shouldn’t have been used in the first place, and should all be removed.
“(They should) stop using plastic at all but – it shouldn’t be in the creek at all,” he said.
“There’s got to be other options. We’ve got enough plastic in the oceans now.”
Cr Vela said the council was investigating the matter.
“Council will continue reviewing alternative products that effectively balance the protection of young plants, potential environmental impacts and responsible use of project budgets,” Cr Vela said.