Transport and Main Roads District Director Dereck Sanderson said the trees, known as scarred trees, had been recognised as a remnant of traditional Aboriginal activities and they would be protected during upcoming clearing works, despite being located within the Warrego Highway road corridor.
“The trees have been identified as being at least 50 years old and are clear evidence of Aboriginal occupation in what is now a very different residential and agricultural landscape,” Mr Sanderson said. “The bark taken from the trees was a versatile material that could be used for a number of tasks including the construction of shelters and household items.
“Representatives from the traditional owners will monitor the site during works and our Senior Cultural Heritage Officer will be on-site when any tree clearing takes place to ensure that these culturally significant trees are not harmed. At the end of the project, a plaque will be placed next to one of the trees providing a brief explanation of the history and the significance of the trees to the Barrangum people.”
Mr Sanderson said in addition to the scarred trees, Transport and Main Roads’ environmental officers had also identified mature trees in the area with hollows that are suitable for various birds and mammals to nest in.
“The contractor, FKG McIlwain Joint Venture, will be organising the installation of 60 new nesting boxes in the remaining trees within two kilometres of the project to accommodate local wildlife from the road corridor,” Mr Sanderson said. “A licensed fauna spotter-catcher will be on-site when clearing commences to ensure any wildlife is carefully removed and relocated to a safer area”.
“If any endangered, vulnerable or near-threatened species are sighted at any stage during construction, all work will stop immediately to allow further investigations to be carried out.”
The new nesting boxes are expected to be installed in time for the spring breeding season. A European wild bee hive in the area will also be relocated prior to clearing.
The works are being completed as part of the $59 million Dalby Western Access Upgrade. This upgrade is one of 15 projects in the $635 million Warrego Highway Upgrade Program which is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments on an 80:20 funding split.