Verandah Walk Project
The Verandah Walk project will provide equitable and all-weather access through covered pathways that provide effective linkages across JCU’s Townsville campus. Accessibility is a key issue that JCU needs to address and this project will significantly improve access for all people on campus between high traffic locations. The project will also enhance safety and security for people attending the campus during evenings.
Concerns have been raised regarding tree removals for the project. The removal of trees for the Verandah Walk project has not been taken lightly, with tree retention being a major consideration in the design of the project.
Due to the width of the pathway and the connections it needs to make (details below), some trees will inevitably need to be removed, however the number of trees to be removed relative to the scale of the project is remarkably low.
The project will involve planting a substantial number of trees (including mature trees) on campus closer to the wet season as part of the proposed Global Tropical Landscape strategy as part of the overall Verandah Walk.
For all capital projects the Estate Directorate aims to retain the maximum number of trees possible and, where removal is required, each tree is inspected individually to identify if it can be retained within the planned works. The number of mature trees to be removed has been greatly reduced from the initial proposal, through close consultation with our staff and the construction contractors. While not all trees can be retained for this important project, we believe that we have made significant efforts to minimise tree removals and retain important trees within the site. The aesthetics of the site will not be significantly altered and trees that do not fall within the immediate pathway will be retained to ensure the natural bush landscape aesthetic is maintained and the impact to biodiversity is minimised.
This also complements the work that TropEco is doing with large-scale weed management and revegetation sites in key natural areas on campus. Over 1000 local native trees have been planted on campus in recent years to enhance biodiversity and rehabilitate the natural areas on campus, particularly in key areas such as riparian corridors. The walkway will also significantly reduce the informal ‘goat-tracks’, which cause erosion and other environmental problems.
JCU’s Tree Protection Policy and the Environmental Policy ensures JCU places value on the importance of trees on campus and closely manages any tree removals, ensuring trees are not removed without careful consideration.
Positioning of the Verandah Walk was also constrained by in ground services such as campus chilled water, low voltage power, high voltage power, sewer, stormwater, communications and potable water. Some of these services such as high voltage power have exclusion zones of 3m. This area is one of the busiest on the campus and we have done everything we can to limit the impact on existing flora in the area within these constraints.