Skip to main content

To: John Dewar (VC, LTU), Noel Larkins (AgriBio Facility Director, Honeywell), Natasha Bennett (Executive Officer, Vic Gov), Darebin City Council, Travis Beddoe (Head of AgriBio, LTU), Shaun Collin (Dean of SABE, LTU)

Protect our old growth trees at La Trobe University

On the 3/7/23, Honeywell applied for a permit to cut down the magificent, pre-European River Red Gum outside the AgriBio building at La Trobe University (LTU), Wurundjeri land.

We are urging the executive levels of LTU and Honeywell to retain this important tree. We are also urging Darebin City Council to reject this permit application. LTU and Honeywell must seek alternative options to removal, such as static cabling and erecting permanent barriers.

We also ask that La Trobe University has better standards and practices that safeguard our remnant vegetation which many LTU researchers are trying to protect. This tree is a lighthouse example of managing remnant trees on campus and that is why it is so important that it be managed to best practice so that the others will receive the same level of management.

Old growth, remnant vegetation is extremely rare in urban landscapes, hence, we need to protect every patch!

We ask that they support their University community in creating a better future for all.

Why is this important?

Honeywell are planning to remove an old growth River Red Gum that is located out the front of the AgriBio Building despite the initial arborist report recommending to manage the tree using "weight reduction pruning, canopy retrenchment pruning and re-cabling of limbs".

This particular individual tree is classified as remnant vegetation and is thought to be up to 400 years old (pre-European). It is a critical habitat tree with many hollows and we know that many species are currently inhabiting this tree, including sugar gliders, lorikeets, possums, and more. (For context: it takes about 100 years for a hollow to form!)

Many species are known to nest, roost and forage in rare old trees around La Trobe University, most noteworthy are Swift Parrots (EPBC Act-listed as Critically Endangered), and Gang Gang cockatoos (EPBC Act-listed as Endangered).

See here for some of the species we found living in and around this old River Red Gum outside the front of AgriBio:

We as a community should be concerned because the loss of ancient trees is a loss to an irreplaceable part of our natural and cultural heritage. The notion that this giant tree, imposing in presence, impressive in stature, and high in habitat value, may be replaced by planting a juvenile tree is nothing short of incomprehensible. Not in several lifetimes at least, given it has survived 3 centuries!

Our previous petition gained 700 signatures. Signed by concerned members of the public, students and staff of La Trobe University. This number continues to increase every day.

Please help us protect our urban remnant vegetation and sign this petition!


Here are some of the comments made by people as to why they signed this petition, it is truly moving and is a very concerning issue for people:

Indigenous Staff member – “As a First Nations women, I believe we should have further information as to why the tree is being cut down. It is part of Wurundjeri Country.”

LTU Student - “This tree is irreplaceable habitat, and La Trobe cannot pretend to be committed to environmental preservation and conservation if this is allowed to occur. Find another solution. We CANNOT keep destroying habitat because it is inconvenient.”

LTU Staff - “La Trobe University campus is unique in its ecological habitat and sense of place. Significant old trees like this make La Trobe. There are multiple alternatives to removal of this tree and a second opinion by an arborist is necessary. La Trobe urgently needs to review it's vegetation protection approach if such a removal is deemed possible without thorough review and staff and student consultation. Similarly, the proposed removal of significant old trees and understory from the proposed solar farm should be critically considered. You can not get this kind of contribution to the university back by planting new small trees.”

LTU Alumni - “This tree pre-dates European colonisation of the site, and its retention, protection from built encroachments, and ongoing ecological management, together with other adjacent pockets of native vegetation, around AgriBio & the R&D Park, were strict Planning Permit requirements for LTU, in perpetuity, imposed as essential minimum obligations, by DEECA's regional Biodiversity Management division. LTU needs to retain this tree, and all other adjacent pockets of native vegetation, around AgriBio & the R&D Park, and exclude built encroachments & people access & risks, and manage all these ecological assets, to the highest best-practice, as per the National standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia. Anything short of fulfilling these obligations destroys the community social licence on which La Trobe stands and trades!”

Community member - “I support this petition, the old river Red Gum Tree shouldn’t be removed. I support this, because the removal of the tree can lead to significant negative impacts on the local environment and ecosystem. Such as: loss of habitat, reduced biodiversity, soul erosion, and increased carbon emissions. Additionally, this Red Gum tree holds cultural and aesthetic value, providing a sense of history and continuity. Therefore, removing the tree can have negative impacts on the local community. Thanks to the Botany and Plant Ecology Society for raising awareness and support for the preservation of the old river Red Gum Tree, you are helping to protect the local ecosystem and heritage.”
Ring Rd, Bundoora VIC 3083, Australia

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL



2023-11-23 16:19:15 +1100

1,000 signatures reached

2023-09-18 22:21:11 +1000

A member of the public went to look at the tree after its limb breakage last week, no photos, just a look. This person was told by security they couldn't LOOK at the tree. We have had to seek permission to take photos of the tree in the past, but now we are required to shield our eyes from it every time you walk into the cafe to get a coffee. Please use the hand rails to help navigate the main entrance, as the tree's presence is inescapable and you may have to shut your eyes between the car park and the front door to avoid a glimpse

2023-08-28 22:26:23 +1000

Questions asked at the Darebin City Council meeting on the 28/8/23. Three questions were asked by Nina Kerr, and two other members of the public regarding the tree. Recording of the meeting will be online shortly.

2023-08-28 22:24:02 +1000

Meeting at tree on 25/8/23 to give updates and discuss progress with concerned members of the La Trobe community and the public.

2023-08-12 12:44:02 +1000

BREAKING: Gang Gang Cockatoos (EPBC Act-listed as an Endangered species) have been recorded on the 11th August utilising the old growth River Red Gum out the front of the AgriBio building!

See here for the pictures:

This is a huge finding and will support our work in protecting this tree from having all its branches cut off.

2023-08-12 12:36:38 +1000

Meeting with La Trobe University Infrastructure and Operations Tuesday 15th August to speak how they will be pruning the RRG tree and how to protect other old growth trees on campus.

2023-08-01 16:14:12 +1000

Yahoo News covered the story about LTU denying permission for the tree to be removed, find it here:

2023-08-01 13:10:51 +1000

See below for LTU formal statement about the tree. They also state: "We will be applying the same measures as those applied to the ancient River Red Gum tree at AgriBio to these other significant trees in order to preserve them for future generations."

2023-08-01 10:17:03 +1000

IMPORTANT UPDATE (1/8): La Trobe University has announced this morning that "as owner of the land on which the tree is located, La Trobe has denied permission for the tree to be removed. We will work with the State Government and Honeywell to invest in measures to preserve this important tree while protecting the health and safety of community and visitors to our campus."

This is an important step to protecting this old growth tree. But our fight is not over. Our next steps are to ensure that the tree is not removed, push for a permanent exclusion zone around the tree, and demand/develop better standards and practices that safeguard our remnant vegetation on campus.

2023-08-01 09:34:07 +1000

The Botany Society of LTU is in process of recording all old-growth trees on La Trobe University's campus

2023-07-30 09:09:58 +1000

On the 26/7, our petition was tabled Darebin City Council meeting and was accepted as an formal objection to the Planning Permit Application (D/285/2023) lodged with Darebin City Council

2023-07-27 18:38:14 +1000

19/6: Met with La Trobe University Chief Operating Officer, Mark Smith, who informed us that LTU was meeting with Honeywell on the 21/6 to encourage following the LTU arborist report's recommendations.

We were told that LTU official statement about the situation is : “When the notification of the intent to remove the tree was delivered to the University, we sought our own arborist report to look for ways of protecting the tree. The report commissioned for the University outlines potential ways to save the tree with some selective pruning and maintenance. The University is working with the other parties of AgriBio to lobby Honeywell for ways of saving the tree and manage the perceived risk it presents.”

We are currently awaiting updates from discussions with Honeywell and have been informed that more information will be known on the 28/7.

2023-07-26 20:38:50 +1000

Yahoo news covered the story here:

2023-07-16 17:11:56 +1000

500 signatures reached

2023-07-11 14:12:26 +1000

100 signatures reached