SoT concentrates on trying to save, preserve & protect healthy trees in public spaces, yet sometimes the loss of trees on private property deserves mention. Generally most residents of Marrickville LGA are unaware of the loss of the older, perhaps historic trees unless they are directly affected or when they recognise that ‘something’ in a particular area has changed. The presence of trees is something we take for granted & it is often only if they all go & the landscape is radically changed that we recognise their loss.
I have decided to document the loss of our big older trees or when a mass of trees are removed regardless of whether they were situated on private property or not. This post informs of a recent loss & one that is about to occur.
In September 09, 2 heritage listed 77 year old Fig trees, 1 other Fig tree, which were alive & growing in 1943, 1 mature Plane tree & 2 mature Eucalypts were chopped down in Ferncourt Primary School Marrickville South to make way for the building of a school hall as part of the Federal Government’s stimulus program. The loss of these trees caused much grief to those in the community who know about it. The community tried to find solutions that would enable all the trees to be retained, but their efforts were unsuccessful. You can read about these trees & see photos at the following -http://ecopond.blogspot.com/2009/09/trees.html Thanks to Voren a local resident who sent me the link to her blog.
Last Tuesday 2nd February 2010 the Labor & Independent councillors voted to approve a DA for the St Vincent’s de Paul State Office 2C West Street Lewisham. Many of you will know it as the old Lewisham Hospital site. It is situated across the road from Petersham Park with its lovely oval, numerous old, very special trees & the Fanny Durak Pool. The DA was seeking to demolish an existing brick & stone fence, remove 32 31 mature trees & construct a new fence, driveway & landscaping. The trees that are to be removed give the feeling of a tree-lined avenue as they match those on the opposite side of the road in size & were probably planted at around the same time so their loss is going to have major visual impact. 3 Palms will be relocated.
The whole St Vincent’s de Paul site is heritage listed, including the fence. The DA said:
- the existing fence does not provide sufficient security for residents of an aged-care facility & a woman’s refuge on site.
- the fence is also suffering structural problems due to the height of the soil inside the property & the presence of mature trees, both of which have caused the brickwork to move & lean outward in some parts.
While I agree with both points, after going to the site & having a look, I believe that the removal of the trees is unnecessary unless the aim is to get a more modern, streamlined effect to match the new shiny glass black building.
The fence is bowing outwards. The ground is built up on the inside of the fence. This looks to be deliberate & would have been in place for many decades. I wonder why they just cannot remove the old brick fence, built a new, higher one to improve the security & replace any soil dislodged during construction of the new fence. If they do this, they will be able to retain most if not all of the trees.
St Vincent’s de Paul intends to replace the 32 trees with a mix of lawn, low scale planting, screen planting & Crepe Myrtle, Tuckeroo & Summer Red Gums. I think they want to do this to modernise the place & perhaps allow more onsite parking.
The trees to be removed are decades old. I would guess around 80 years. Most have massive trunks (2-3 metres) & as such are significant sequesters of CO2.
The front of the Lewisham complex looks a mess at the moment because there is building work happening & the front & side of the property has a cement barrier erected to prevent pedestrians being flattened by any part of the fence if it decides to collapse. However, when you enter the property, the noise immediately abates because the trees block a lot of the traffic noise. It is cool, visually pretty & smells nice. It is a relaxing place despite the construction work.
Enter past the front buildings & further into the property & you come across one of Sydney’s hidden gems. There is a contemplation garden complete with life-size religious statues, a small cemetery, old hand-made stone seats tucked into raised garden beds, a variety of mature trees & an old fashioned & very beautiful garden. Birds, insects & lizards are everywhere. Further in there is a school with 3 massive trees with huge natural canopies that shade the playground. There are also many heritage buildings with curved silo-like attachments, a gigantic copper dome & an enormous & exquisitely beautiful sandstone church. The
complex is dotted with enormous Eucalypts & other trees, all of them mature.
Two families of Bandicoots live on the property. I was told the Bandicoots live “out front & in the trees along Thomas Street.” Where will these animals go when their homes are removed? The animals can’t just cross the road & take up
residence in Petersham Park because animals are territorial & other animals probably won’t allow them to move in even if the conditions are right.
The St Vincent’s de Paul complex is a green oasis that provides significant habitat for wildlife one block from the heavily trafficked Parramatta Road & about 6 kms from Sydney CBD. It’s not that I think everything should stay the same & there should be no progress, but sometimes progress can ruin something very special.