Second fig tree likely after felling

By ROGER MORONEY

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In years to come Napier's Clive Square may not be a Morton Bay fig tree-free zone despite the century old landmark of that variety being felled after sustaining too much damage in high winds last week.

Napier City Council Parks and Reserves manager Tony Billing said while a decision had yet to be made, there was a high likelihood a Morton Bay fig would return to the spot which was yesterday the domain of chainsaws and mulchers as specialist contractors removed the damaged giant.

Mr Billing said that, like many, he was sad to see the tree go.

"But we had no option," he said.

About 40 per cent of the tree broke and split in high winds last Friday night, and effectively made the rest of the tree unstable and unpredictable.

After contractors removed the broken branches, one of which weighed several tonnes, to make the tree as safe as possible over the weekend, specialists began looking at possible long-term options.

Mr Billing said they considered cable bracing and pruning, but neither option could guarantee absolute safety so the decision was made to fell it.

"It's down to safety - we just couldn't take the risk."

He said when the tree was taken down to the stump, horticultural experts would look at what was left and make a long-term call on what could go back there.

"We probably will replace it with a Morton Bay."

Given the size of the huge exposed root network, which spread across about 10m, there was a possibility that some sort of landscape feature may be made out of what remained.

"We will also discuss that," Mr Billing said.

One woman who watched the old tree coming down said while it was sad, it had to be accepted that "nothing lasts forever".

The woman said a friend in Australia had told her while the species grew to a large size where she lived they did not have the kind of high winds parts of the Hawke's Bay got hammered with at this time of the year.

Mr Billing agreed.

"Exotic trees growing in New Zealand do not perform the same as they do in their country of origin."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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