Mechanical hitch foils attempt to haul 35-tonne tree

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"Plan A...Transport Repairs staff pull out wire rope from the winch truck during an attempt to move by 6m an almost 21m-tall Ginkgo biloba tree planted close to the Gore civic building.PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Attempts to move a 49-year-old tree outside Gore’s civic building were stumped last week.

The almost 21m Ginkgo biloba was about 5m from the building’s main entrance.

Gore District Council parks and recreation manager Ian Soper said the tree was thought to have been planted before the existing footpath into the building had been laid.

“With the current renovations and a reconfigured entranceway, the tree was going to be smack bang in the middle of the path.

“Therefore, the decision was made to attempt to relocate the tree in the first instance as plan A,” Mr Soper said.

The tree’s roots had been lifting the footpath surface for several years.

In preparation for moving the tree, staff cleared the root ball and undercut it with a wire rope attached to a 20tonne digger.

“The tree was completely cut free from its footings into the surrounding soil.”

The root ball was braced with timber and surrounded by wire rope in an attempt to drag the tree to its new location 6m to the north.

Machine operators estimated the weight of the haul was about 35 tonnes.

“Ultimately, the tree was moved on two occasions about 150mm each time but we then suffered two wire rope failures as well as the leveraging pulley imploding,” Mr Soper said.

“These mechanical failures put paid to plan A.

“I had to admit defeat and give approval to implement plan B.”

Plan B was to remove the tree and replant the same species nearby.

It was disappointing not to be able to shift the tree, he said.

“We do not have many of this species.

“We are happy that we tried to save what was a large and prominent tree on the town belt.

“You know we do not like cutting trees down for no justifiable reason and this is no different.”

Part of the tree had been salvaged and Mr Soper planned to contact the Gore Woodworkers Club about it.

A smaller tree which was about 10 years old had been successfully moved.