Pieter was Cairns Regional Council’s first arborist when he started in 2007; as Principal Arborist he now leads a team of five others. Pieter earned a Graduate Certificate in Arboriculture from the University of Melbourne to add to the knowledge he has gained through his local arboricultural experience and background in silviculture in South Africa. The team he leads has responsibility for managing Council’s trees across a region stretching over 100 km from Mirriwinni to Ellis Beach in Queensland’s tropical north. Pieter has developed Cairns’ tree database as a management tool and, as a subset of that, a database of the fungi that affect trees in the region. His interests include ongoing improvement of methods for diagnosis, assessment and reporting for diseased trees. Risk management in relation to public perception is also a focus, due to the impact of some of the fungal diseases on large trees, and he is working with experts at James Cook University on research projects relating to local strains of Pyrrhoderma noxium and the use of Trichoderma spp. as a treatment option.
Treenet Symposium Speaker
Tropical fungi and urban tree management
Pieter’s presentation will look at how tropical fungi affect tree assessment, data collection, decision making processes, public consultation, and tree management costs. As with many councils, Cairns’ decisions are closely scrutinised by the public, particularly in relation to the removal of large trees infected by fungi. Extensive consultation campaigns can be good for public relations but are not always expedient due unacceptable levels of risk, rapid tree growth, and high rates of decay. Cairns Regional Council actively involves community groups in decision making processes, to inform them and to try to gain their support for remedial actions once a high-risk tree has been identified. When there is time, engaging with and informing the public regarding Council’s tree management processes builds trust, which is of considerable benefit when high risk prevents consultation.