Many of the trees in Gunnamatta Park are remnants from original bushland that covered Cronulla prior to urban development.
Species include Forest Red Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis, Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata and Scribbly Gum Eucalyptus racemosa. The trees in the park have held a special place in the hearts of locals as far back as in 1895 when Gunnamatta Park was first proclaimed.
Like all living things trees have a limited lifetime and with age deteriorate in health. In Gunnamatta Park, some of the heritage trees are in decline as a result of age, compacted soil, drought and over-browsing by possums.
Conserving our heritage trees
Beginning March 2020, Sutherland Shire Council will begin a conservation program to protect the long term health and regeneration of the magnificent Gunnamatta Park heritage trees for future generations to enjoy. The works are part of Council’s commitment to replenishing the tree canopy in Cronulla.
Following assessment of the area, we will remove any trees or limbs that pose a risk to the public. Eight dead trees have been identified for partial removal, with trunks and large limbs retained for potential wildlife habitat. Thirteen other trees will be selectively pruned to reduce public risk while conserving important hollows for habitat.
A replacement planting schedule is now being developed to ensure the tree canopy is maintained into the future. As part of our Urban Tree and Bushland Policy, at least five new trees will be planted for every tree removed. We will also ensure that only species indigenous to the locality will be replanted to maintain the integrity of the landscape and local ecological values.
Possums and other wildlife
To conserve habitat for local wildlife, including Rainbow Lorikeets, Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos and microbats, we will take care to retain tree hollows as part of pruning. Some trees may also be banded or caged to ensure their protection as they become established.
As a result of feeding by humans, a colony of possums in the park has become unsustainable, with many possums suffering from disease and poor health. We are working with WIRES and other animal control groups to manage the existing population. We’re also asking the community to help protect our wildlife by not feeding animals like possums.
Feeding possums and other native animals has a highly detrimental effect. Animals reliant on humans for food lose their ability to forage and become deficient in key vitamins and nutrients, they also develop aggressive behaviours and affect the survival of other wildlife sharing their habitat. This fact sheet from WIRES is a great resource to share with neighbours and family.
Historic images courtesy of Sutherland Shire Libraries: Woman standing at the wishing tree in Gunnamatta Park, Cronulla, ca. 1910. Gunnamatta Park at Cronulla with two girls sitting near the gum trees, ca. 1910.
Policies and documents
Urban Tree and Bushland Policy