Tree Removals and Planting
Are Royal Sydney removing trees as part of the Championship Course redevelopment?
As part of the Championship Course Project, the Club is removing 595 of its existing 2,696 trees to make way for 2,187 new, all-native species to be planted. This will result in a net increase of 1,592 trees at Royal Sydney, taking the onsite total to 4,288.
Why are the 595 trees being removed?
The Championship Course Project does not only comprise a new course design, but also a comprehensive landscape plan. This plan will cede 14 hectares of the Club’s mown golfing turf to restore a natural coastal heathland landscape, moving away from the previous ‘parkland’ style course (ie. heavily turfed and highly manicured) more commonly found in Europe and North America.
A total of 595 trees have been identified for removal, which will allow the introduction of 2,187 native trees – as well as 500,000 new understory plantings.
As a result, the plan will improve sustainability and biodiversity, control aggressive and invasive flora species, provide wildlife corridors and restore native bushland.
How have the removed trees been chosen?
The trees selected for removal primarily fall under the following categories:
Non-native or invasive species. Examples include African Olive trees and some fig species.
Trees blocking new playing corridors, posing safety issues or prohibiting natural landscape growth.
Trees reaching the end of their life expectancy. The course is experiencing an increasing number of tree failures, with 300 trees lost in the past five years. This rate of failure would have accelerated in the years ahead.
Will there be a situation where Royal Sydney removes more trees than the 595 specified for the project?
No. Royal Sydney will be strictly adhering to the agreed conditions of the development consent which specify exactly which trees are to be removed as part of the project.
Every tree onsite at Royal Sydney is uniquely numbered, physically tagged and geo-tagged to ensure that all tree removals are consistent with the approved plan. In addition, an ecologist and site arborist are onsite to oversee all tree removals and agreed protocols.
More information about exactly which trees are being removed, as well as the locations of where the 2,187 new trees will be planted, can be found at the bottom of the ‘Planned Changes’ page.
What species are the 2,187 new trees being planted in the new landscape?
The trees removed will be replaced by Australian natives, including species such as Sydney Peppermint, Scribbly Gum, Angophora, Coastal Banksia, She Oak, Old Man Banksia and Red Bloodwood.
Will the 2,187 new trees all be saplings?
No. Over the past several years, Royal Sydney has been working with an offsite tree nursery to grow native trees that will be transported to Rose Bay and planted in the new landscape.
948 mature and semi-mature trees have been grown, with pot sizes ranging from 100 to 400 litre size. The remaining 1,239 will be planted as smaller sizes, to bring the end total of trees onsite to 4,288.
Will there be a reduction in canopy cover in the new landscape?
Initially there will be less canopy cover. However, the 15.35 hectares of current canopy cover will be completely regained within 10 years, plus an increase of 6-19 percent by 2040-2045.
What else is being planted as part of project?
In addition to the 2,187 new trees, half a million bushes, shrubs, sedges and native grasses will be introduced to create an understory and thriving natural ecosystem to harmonise with the trees.
The introduction of the new trees and understory plantings will take our previous onsite floral diversity from 30 species to more than 100 different species, including various species found in the endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub. The planting of such a wide variety of native plant species provides the potential for future seed collection and regeneration projects in the wider community.
Won’t more trees and plants mean more water and maintenance will be required?
No. Due to the new landscape featuring less mown golfing turf and being more endemic to the local climate and environment, the changes will actually result in a 20 percent reduction in water use (saving 73 million litres per year), as well as a significant reduction in the use of chemicals and fertilisers.
What precautions are in place to protect wildlife and other trees during tree removals?
All trees scheduled for removal undergo a close scrutinisation process from an onsite ecologist, who has already been monitoring (and reporting on) the Club’s landscape and biodiversity for several months.
These trees are assessed by the ecologist before felling occurs. Any wildlife identified in this process will be relocated either elsewhere onsite, or in collaboration with WIRES and local veterinary services.
Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) fencing has been established around all remaining trees to ensure that they are unimpacted by construction machinery or the removal of other trees.
Has Royal Sydney considered the possibility of encountering Aboriginal heritage sites or artefacts during the project?
The potential for Aboriginal heritage within the Championship Course area was considered in extensive detail throughout the preparation of the project’s development application.
Both an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment (in 2019) and Aboriginal archaeological test excavations (in 2020) were conducted by Coast History & Heritage and the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.
These reports were considered by Woollahra Municipal Council in the initial project development application. During Land & Environment Court proceedings, Aboriginal heritage was not contested.
What measures are in place to ensure that Aboriginal heritage is managed properly in the project?
The findings of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment and Aboriginal archaeological test excavations provided the basis for an Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan.
The Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan was accepted by Heritage NSW as the basis for the conditions of an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit issued to the Club in 2023 to guide the golf course work.
The actions now being undertaken are in accordance with the conditions of approval relating to Aboriginal heritage as set out in the Land & Environment Court’s judgement.
As part of the Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan, an Aboriginal Heritage consultant and representative from La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council will undertake regular inspections of the project excavation and monitor each stage of work.
Does Royal Sydney work with local Aboriginal groups in regards to Aboriginal heritage management?
Yes. The La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council has worked with Royal Sydney on Aboriginal heritage matters for more than 20 years.
In regards Championship Course Project, they were actively involved with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment in 2019, the test excavations in 2020, and in the development of management procedures for the course project.
They, and other Aboriginal groups consulted in the preparation of the archaeological reports and Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit application, have supported Royal Sydney’s measures.
What herbicide is Royal Sydney using to eradicate turf and weeds ahead of construction?
The product that will be used is ‘glyphosate’ – the herbicide noted in the Biodiversity Management Plan comprehensively put together by Royal Sydney’s consulting ecologist. This product, generically known as ‘Round Up’, is approved by the Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority (apvma.gov.au).
Does glyphosate pose any risks?
If the application is made with strict adherence to the label guidelines, then the use of glyphosate poses no risk to anyone either onsite or beyond Royal Sydney’s boundaries. The product will be administered by qualified professionals under specific conditions.
Additionally, glyphosate is rapidly broken down by microbes in the soil. Therefore, residue is short-lived and will not, following application, affect humans, animals or plant life over the long-term.
What safety protocols will the Club use when applying herbicide?
The staff applying herbicides have all achieved an AQF3 Qualification and are therefore trained to ‘Transport & Store Chemicals’ (AHCCHM304), and ‘Prepare and Apply Chemicals to Control Pests, Weeds & Disease’ (AHCCHM307).
The application program will be broken up into three zones to be addressed separately. This will significantly reduce the amount of herbicide applied at any one time.
Herbicide applications will be made directly (maximum of 50cm above the ground) and will only occur under strict conditions. The Club will be using a weather monitor for wind direction (only spraying when wind direction is towards the centre of the golf course and not outwards). The monitors will also be used to assess windspeed, ensuring applications do not occur if the speed exceeds 15km/h. Water sensitive paper will be placed on spraying zone boundaries to monitor any potential drift.
Why is using a herbicide necessary?
This application of herbicide is necessary to ensure that all of the existing turf grass and other weeds, (as well as their roots and seeds below the surface) are completely eradicated prior to construction.
This will ensure that new turf and flora species can be planted in clean soil, providing them the best opportunity to flourish upon completion of construction. Controlling the weeds will ensure that not only the new planted plants survive, it will also ensure that new seeds from existing plants can germinate without the competition from other weeds. This is an important part of the process to ensure long-term sustainability. Couch grass growing inside a native vegetation zone is considered a weed and is detrimental to the health and vigour of the native plants.
The current couch grass species on the golf course is being replaced with a different couch grass variety and it will be important that the new grass is not contaminated with any weeds. In this situation, the undesired host is the current couch grass and therefore this needs to be eradicated.
When will herbicide treatments take place?
There are currently no herbicide applications scheduled.
Will there be asbestos removal occurring during the project?
Yes. As part of our program to remove existing in-ground pipework, asbestos removal works will be carried out by trained and ticketed personnel under our SafeWork NSW licence.
What safety protocols will be in place during this removal?
Asbestos air monitoring will be in place during the removal process and on completion the works will be independently inspected and certified by a Safework NSW licensed asbestos assessor.
All works will be performed in accordance with:
- Code of Practice – How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace 2022;
- Code of Practice – How to Safely Remove Asbestos 2022;
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017;
- SafeWork NSW requirements.
Construction Impacts Mitigation
Will I experience increased noise and vibrations during work hours?
In accordance with the development consent, machine excavation is permitted to can be carried out between 7.00am and 5.00pm on weekdays, and between 7.00am and 1.00pm on Saturdays.
While there will be noises associated with the work, Royal Sydney has performed acoustic monitoring to ensure that the construction will create no significant increase in regular nearby noise levels during these times. Noise monitoring will continue to be conducted throughout the construction period.
Nearby neighbours may experience some vibrations at times when heavy machinery is used – this will mainly occur in the early stages of the project.
Royal Sydney has installed vibration monitors around the perimeter of the worksite to monitor and minimise potential vibration for our neighbours. In some instances, the machinery will operate in a lower gear to help limit vibrations.
What measures are in place to mitigate dust?
Throughout the early periods of the project, Royal Sydney will be removing old turf, performing landscape shaping, and applying new turf and flora. During the periods in which the underlying earth is exposed, there will be an increased prevalence of dust.
To minimise the impacts of this dust, Royal Sydney has a number of measures in place.
Firstly, the work will be completed in stages, so that not all areas are exposed at the same time. The Club will work to minimise the time in which each area is exposed before it is re-vegetated.
Some activities will be re-scheduled during high wind to minimise dust spread. Mesh cloth is erected around the majority of the Club’s perimeter fences to catch airborne particles and also reduce spread.
Finally, Royal Sydney has also deployed two Hydrema Articulated Water Trucks. These trucks utilise the Royal Sydney’s onsite bore water to apply moisture to exposed surfaces, therefore minimising the dryness of the surface and reducing dust.
Will there be odours?
For some of our immediate neighbours, there may be some odours early in construction work as the old turf is removed in work areas.
This turf is brought together and buried. However, on some days before the burying of this turf, the vegetative material may give off a ‘mulch’ odour – particularly following wet weather. Royal Sydney aims to complete this removal and burial as quickly as possible.
The potential impact of this will be most prevalent in January and February, before construction moves inwards on the golf course.