Members of a Dungog environmental group are devastated thieves have stolen plants from the Frank Robinson Reserve just days after they were planted.
The Sustaining the Williams Valley Inc started after a conversation between a small group of like-minded people who were concerned about the damage to the banks of the Williams River and Myall Creek following the 2015 super storm.
Subsequent meetings and workshops were held to develop a list of priorities for the group with the popular Frank Robinson Park identified as the first project.
Over a course of many Sunday working bees, dozens of the group’s members have weeded and cleared the area, with the first lot of plants put in the ground on Sunday, March 26.
Around 70 plants went in the ground, mostly lamandra and a few syngizium floribunda – all donated.
The lamandra was chosen specifically for the riverbank as during a flood it recovers quickly – it lies down and pops back up again when the water recedes.
Sadly, only days after the working bee, one of the members discovered that around half of the plants were gone.
“It’s quite a shock that anyone would do this,” said Dianne Pope.
“It’s not vandalism, it is systematic theft.
“They have left some and taken others.
“It’s very disappointing.”
The Dungog Police have been notified about the theft and the area will continue to be monitored.
The group said it also plans to monitor the area for wildlife with wildlife cameras and the members appealed for the community to keep an eye on the area and report any suspicious activity to the police.
The group has around 70 members and while this incident has been a blow, they vowed to continue the work and will replace the stolen plants.
“This is really just the start of the project,” said Judy Boyden.
“It was very satisfying to finally do some planting after all the weeding. We plan on doing the whole riverbank between the two bridges.”
The group has a $10,000 grant from Hunter Water for the purchase of more plants and professional bush regeneration work.