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Group strikes deal over access to settlement

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction officer Russell Walters, Mike Bethan and Adaline Siew from the State Heritage Office, Ludlow Tuart Forest Restoration Group vice chair Des Donnelly and City of Busselton strategic planner William Hosken.
Camera IconDepartment of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction officer Russell Walters, Mike Bethan and Adaline Siew from the State Heritage Office, Ludlow Tuart Forest Restoration Group vice chair Des Donnelly and City of Busselton strategic planner William Hosken.

Efforts to restore the heritage-listed Ludlow timber settlement have turned a corner, with State Government departments giving the go-ahead for remedial works to begin after spates of theft and vandalism.

The Ludlow Tuart Forest Restoration Group has applied to lease the site from the department, but with no formal agreement yet in place, the passionate collective has so far been powerless to act.

Destruction and theft have reached critical points in recent months — some efforts so extreme that one building was reduced to a roof on the ground, with the entire frame and internal fixtures stolen.

Extensive damage to one property.
Camera IconExtensive damage to one property.

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Last week, Ludlow Tuart Forest Restoration Group vice-chairman Des Donnelly met with local and State Government planners to strike a deal that would allow the group access.

While still awaiting the lease application outcome, a Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions spokeswoman confirm the department would support the group’s efforts in the wake of recent damage and allow access.

“A formal arrangement for the management of the site has not been finalised,” she said.

“In the interim, due to ongoing vandalism, DBCA is supportive of the group’s request to have an on-site presence to help to mitigate vandalism.”

Group member Evelyn Taylor said the agreement allowed for security to be ramped up and hoped the constant presence would ward off would-be criminals.

“We’re doing regular patrols and keeping a close eye on everything ... and we’re working with police,” she said.

“We’re also working with the councils (City of Busselton and Shire of Capel) to get onsite caravans there so we can have caretakers there permanently.”

Located just north of Busselton, the settlement comprises forestry cottages and a former sawmill.

It is set among the world’s only surviving tuart forest.

Tenants were evicted from the cottages in 2016, with the department citing difficulties in maintaining and servicing the properties.

City planning and development services director Paul Needham said the site was of historical and social significance.

“The (Ludlow) Tuart Forest Restoration Group has already done a lot of work such as clearing rubbish, mending fences and raising public awareness,” he said.

“The group is keen to establish a presence at the village to prevent further deterioration and vandalism and the City is assisting them to this end.”

As well as restoring the settlement, the group hopes to plant 150,000 seedlings into degraded areas of the forest over the next five years.

Mr Donnelly said the project would provide additional opportunities for tourism, heritage, education and recreation values to be accessed.

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