Central Courtyard: a green past and future

trees on campus

Macquarie University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the Macquarie University Land, the Wattamattagal clan of the Darug nation, whose cultures and customs have nurtured, and continue to nurture, this land, since the Dreaming. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.

Since its founding in 1964, our University has been renowned for its beautiful tree-scape, including the Lemon Scented Gums in the Central Courtyard. Planted in 1968, the Queensland gums have gained a special place in the hearts of many. However, their species type, the location and their age have combined to create an environment today where they are under extreme stress and dying with a high risk of falling branches.

This presented the University with an unacceptable safety risk in the Central Courtyard and, based on the advice of experts and the inherent increased safety risks, the courtyard was closed on 20 October. Our next step will be to remove and replace the trees, which will begin in the near future.

“At the request of the University, Australian Tree Consultants evaluated the Lemon Scented Gums in the Central Courtyard.  Nine trees were identified as being at a critical risk level, and their removal was undertaken. The remaining trees are also in declining condition due to less than optimal original planting techniques, reducing their functional life span. Retention of the trees will increase the risk to courtyard users and prevents installation of a more viable and sustainable planting,” says Hugh Taylor, Managing Director of Australian Tree Consultants.

The trees, which would have had to be removed regardless of the Campus Development Plan works, will be replaced as part of the Central Courtyard upgrade. Where possible, the trees that are removed will be repurposed for furniture and other campus structures. In consultation with the Walanga Muru Centre,  a ceremony will be planned to commemorate the trees that are being replaced.

Ceremonies will also be organised for the new mixed native and deciduous tree-scape that will be planted in the Central Courtyard. The design will maximise summer shading and winter sunlight, and the types of species are being chosen in collaboration with Walanga Muru and external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultant specialists in this area.

“We’re working on how we can best respect and honour the trees that are being replaced while working with the University to plan for the future green spaces on our campus,” says Dr Leanne Holt, Walanga Muru’s Director.

“The University is extremely proud of our beautiful green campus. We do not want to see trees removed from campus, but in this case it is necessary,” says Leanne Denby, Director of Sustainability. “However, the Campus Development Plan provides an opportunity to sensitively replace the removed trees. For the Central Courtyard, we are thinking carefully about the species chosen to replace the existing Lemon-Scented Gums and we will pick those that suit the Central Courtyard and are safer when mature. The trees on campus will continue to make Macquarie University a unique and special place to be.”

Macquarie is committed to replanting two trees for every one removed, taking into account the longevity of the trees chosen and the wildlife on campus who may use them. The University also plants 50 trees that are native to the local area every year and engages in programs of assisted natural regeneration and replanting.


We look forward to inviting staff, students and the community to ceremonies and replanting events as we go on this journey together, and will share details as soon as plans are finalised. For questions, email campusdevelopment@mq.edu.au

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