RESIDENTS opposed to the removal of hundreds of trees from streets in Rowville have won a first-round victory against Knox Council.
The council last week bowed to pressure by suspending its bulk tree replacement program.
The council's engineering and infrastructure director Ian Bell said the council would again write to affected residents outlining the results of a survey — which showed majority support for the trees' removal — and clarify the details of the program.
Deb Capon, one of the Rowville residents leading the campaign against the removal of the trees, said it would give them more time to gather signatures on a petition to be lodged at the February 26 council meeting.
Those against the program say removing the eucalypt trees would change the streetscape of the neighbourhood and deprive native wildlife of habitat.
But based on letters received by the Weekly following last week's story on the issue, many residents support the removal of the trees.
The overwhelming reason to continue with the removal of the trees was because falling limbs had blocked drains and could potentially damage property.
But Knox Environment Society has joined the opposition to the removal of the iconic trees.
Spokesman Darren Wallace called on the council to retain all trees that had no buildings within the root zones, because they did not present any risk.
The society was also angered by the council's decision to fund the program through its bulk street tree replacement budget, rather than the asset renewal budget which has millions of dollars available to it.
"It [bulk street tree replacement budget] is already badly underfunded, resulting in the council now removing many more street trees than it ever replaces," Mr Wallace said.
Melbourne University tree expert Greg Moore said many people did not appreciate the benefits of large eucalypt trees which protected homes from the elements. "Often people are annoyed by them but they don't realise the benefits the vegetation provided until it has gone," Dr Moore said.
The tree's large canopy offered shade in the warmer weather, as well as protection from powerful winds.