Yesterday the Newcastle Herald ran an article that shocked me. A couple of months ago I wrote about the Laman Street Fig trees that are at serious risk of being removed. Newcastle Council says the trees are “potentially unstable.” The community says they are not & that none of these trees dropped a branch or fell during the Pasha Bulker storm that caused massive damage across Newcastle.
The June 2007 storm (the Pasha Bulker storm) was one of the most significant meteorological events in Australia’s history. It was the 4th largest general insurance loss (inflation adjusted) since systematic insurance records were started in 1968. The storm consisted of three distinct impacts (1) flash flooding in the urban area of Newcastle (and as far south as the Central Coast, impacting 800,000 people) on the night of 8 June (about 1 in 100 year return period) (2) more general flooding on the Hunter River 3 days later (about 1 in 40 return period, impacting about 100,000 people) and (3) high winds and wave heights on the night of 8 June (the worst in the Newcastle-Sydney region since the “Sygna” storm in 1974. ~ The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility - http://www.nccarf.edu.au/node/214 So you would think if healthy trees were going to fall, they would do so during that storm.
Having been to see the trees myself I was impressed at their beauty & couldn’t understand why they were considered dangerous. The road is not damaged, nor is the footpath. A wedding party certainly wasn’t afraid as they were standing under the trees for at least an hour having photos taken. See – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/newcastles-iconic-laman-street-fig-trees-at-risk/
Newcastle Mayor Clr Tate in an article in the Newcastle Herald yesterday suggested that the Laman Street Figs be chopped down & the stumps of these magnificent Figs be left in place & sculpted into famous Newcastle artists. He cites the Legerwood Memorial trees in Tasmania as his inspiration saying they are a good tourist attraction.
In 1918 at railway reserve at Ringarooma Road, now known as Legerwood, 2 Douglas Fir, 2 Giant Sequoia, 3 Deodar & a Weymouth Pine were planted to honour WW1 fallen soldiers. In 2001 the trees were deemed unsafe, but not removed due to community concern. In 2004 the Legerwood Hall & Reserves Committee employed a local chainsaw carver to sculpt images of the fallen soldiers & war scenes using the trunks of the trees that were left in place. I would seriously recommend looking at these sculptures - http://www.dorsetonline.org.au/trees.htm
For the life of me I cannot see how chopping down these magnificent trees to leave carved stumps is seen as a viable option. Admitted I am biased as I think Newcastle Council should do everything in its power to keep these trees. Not only are these trees an icon, but they are an extremely beautiful asset & would be worth at least $100,000 each. 14 trees = $1,400,000.
As Council has blocked the street to through traffic, I would suggest a good option is to remove Laman Street totally. It’s a very short street & access to the Art Gallery can be via Civic Park or from the side, just as the Art Gallery of NSW can be entered via the Domain. Even disabled parking at the sides would be as close as it is for the Art Gallery of NSW. Remove all the bitumen & concrete, put in paths to the Art Gallery, add some seating, plant & mulch.
If the trees scare you because of their height, borrow the Arborist from Sydney’s Botanical Gardens to do a proper prune & keep this beautiful asset for future generations. The trees are healthy even to their root system.
Please don’t chop down living treasures to grind chain-saw sculptures of dead artists. It’s too sad an idea to even contemplate. Leave Tasmania to be the only ones with tree stump sculptures. Have tourists come to see the fabulous Fig trees of Newcastle & have afternoon tea outside the Newcastle Art Gallery under the shade of the Laman Street Figs. Be known as the Mayor that saved the Laman Street Figs, not the Mayor who …. Oh, it’s just too awful to contemplate.
To read the Newcastle Herald Article -
You can read the follow-up post written on 1st September 2010 about the Independent Arborist Report by clicking here http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/independent-arborist-report-for-newcastles-laman-street-figs/