Transport NSW has admitted that no animals were rescued during the removal of 40 centenarian fig trees to make way for light rail along the edge of Centennial Park, in Randwick.
They did, however, find an infant brushtail possum and nest of baby kookaburras when removing 23 trees from Wansey Rd. The baby possum and kookaburras were taken to the Struggletown Veterinary Hospital for care.
“The possum was found at the base of a tree and it was freezing. I called it Scratch because it had a scratch on its head, the poor darling,” practice manager Nicky Ronalds told News Local.
Wildlife carers were sceptical of claims that only a single tree had been home to wildlife. They are now calling for an inspection of the 700 trees slated to be chopped down, suggesting that their destruction would affect up to 1000 local animals, by destroying both their homes and their food sources.
Wildlife carer Kate Watson and local volunteers offered to help remove animals, but were told their services would be unnecessary. However, Watson said they saw signs of animals still housed in the trees only a day before they were cut down.
“After the meeting [with Transport NSW] we saw at ground level a little possum asleep in one of the trees on Alison Rd,” she said. “Clearly there were animals where they thought there were no animals.”
The NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), were also refused entry on both Friday and Saturday. NSW Transport spokesperson also told News Local they had “met with WIRES to discuss the process for managing fauna during tree removal”—yet WIRES says no calls were received from Altrac regarding the issue.
The removal of trees for the light rail is not the only threat facing Sydney’s flora and fauna. An additional 350 trees are also set for disposal—including many in Sydney Park, due to be removed according to plans for the Westconnex project.