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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 12:12 GMT
Sydney trees poisoned for views
Luxury houses with multi-million dollar price tags tower over Sydney Harbour in this September 19, 2003 file photograph.
Ocean views command premium prices
Sydney's trees are being poisoned by residents eager to open up harbour views from their homes.

The arboreal cull has become "an epidemic", according to New South Wales environment minister Bob Debus.

His state government now plans to toughen up existing laws in a bid to discourage the aspirational residents.

The vandals bore holes in the trunks and filled them with poison, chopped them down, or cut away strips of bark, killing the trees slowly, reports said.

"It's clear some residents are taking matters into their own hands but, unless you catch people in the act, it's extremely hard to find and prosecute for tree vandalism or poisoning," Mr Debus was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

"In some of the worst cases entire groves of mature trees have been poisoned to give uninterrupted views to nearby waterways," he said in a letter to the head of a local government association.

But Coogee resident and environmental consultant Stephen Sheldon said the local authorities should not be taken aback by the residents' response.

"If they plant trees in front of peoples' houses when people have these views, then it is hardly a surprise that some of them will poison them," he told the Sydney Morning Herald this week.

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