I have spent some time over the last week reading the various reports regarding the trees of Marrickville Metro. In summary, the most used words are: basal decay, mature epicormic growth, fair health, possible decay, poor structure, wounds, low landscape significance, fair structure, mechanical damage likely the result of lawn mower equipment. Poor structure refers to past decades of pruning & is entirely subjective unless the tree is lob-sided & in danger of falling. The bulk of street trees in Marrickville LGA would be considered poor structure due to pruning for power lines, but we wouldn’t remove them because of this.
87 trees were assessed as generally being in fair health & structure. Most have been assessed as a remaining life expectancy range of 5-15 years. A few have a remaining life expectancy range of 15-40 years & some trees have a remaining life expectancy range of less than 5 years. I look & see a verdant green canopy of trees thriving in appalling conditions, while the report claims trees are on their last legs.
Many of the Figs along the exterior wall of the Metro complex have been assessed as fair because of a reduced canopy cover of approximately 60- 70% “comparative to the same species growing in ideal site & environmental conditions.” I’d ask how many trees in Marrickville LGA are actually growing in the ideal site & environmental conditions. How can one assess these trees based on these criteria? They would never be able to compete because of the type of trees they are & the conditions in which they were planted.
Tree #31 that was assessed as in good health, but with poor structure has already been chopped down. It was 10 metres tall with a 10 metre-wide canopy. The last line of this report says, “NOTE: Reference should be made to any relevant legislation including Tree Preservation Orders i.e. permission to undertake tree pruning/removal should be sought from Council.” Well, did that happen regarding three #31?
Trees will need to be removed to accommodate the proposed building footprint extension & canopy pruning will be required to provide building clearance & for access during construction. In other words, the canopy of the Figs has to be lowered & pruned back so that bricks & mortar & other building materials can be taken to the current car park level.
7 Council-managed Lemon-scented Gums & a Eucalypt along Smidmore Street have been assessed as being in good to fair health & good structure. They intend to prune these spectacular trees as well.
The Moreton Bay Fig that was probably planted around the same time as the historic Mill House that was built in 1860 has been assessed as being in fair health, in poor structure & suffering root damage probably because they were repeatedly mown over. It has been given a remaining life expectancy range of 5-15 years & despite having high landscape significance, has been allocated a ‘consider for retention’ label.
Consider for retention! If it was planted around 1860 it is one of our oldest trees & should be preserved & protected, not chopped down to lay paving. Last week it had a number of branches chopped off. A local resident who witnessed this said they were ‘overhanging.’ Figs are supposed to have a spreading canopy. I’d be very interested to see what City of Sydney Council would be doing to preserve & assist this tree & I doubt that they would allow it to be pruned by anyone other than a veteran tree specialist, though to be fair, perhaps AMP Capital arranged this. The report says it is a heritage-listed tree, but I couldn’t find it in the Draft LEP listing of heritage trees.
Even the lovely Peppercorn tree at the front plaza entrance has been assessed as fair structure & only expected to have a remaining life expectancy range of 5-15 years. It will likely be removed for paving & a raised garden bed where art can be displayed.
The only tree that was assessed as being in good health and structure is a Fan Palm.
The Hills Figs along Smidmore Road near the lights are assessed as having a remaining life expectancy range of 5-15 years & have been allocated a ‘consider for retention’ label. 4 others outside the building have been assessed as only having a remaining life expectancy range of less than 5 years.
The trees of Marrickville Metro have been butchered from the roots to the branches for many decades by poor pruning & damage from lawn mowing. Vehicles have wounded their trunks. Trolleys have been smashed against them as well as an array of other events where they have come off second best. Most have very little growing space, receive very little water & nutrients. Despite appalling conditions, they are growing strong. Residents I have spoken with who live opposite have not noticed any deterioration in their health. That many of these trees are not expected to live longer than the next 5 years surprises me.
The canopy of the Fig trees poses a significant problem getting building materials to the upper storey, but not if they are removed. Metro have a new vision of how the complex will look and this doesn’t include a line of trees around the perimeter walls. The trees prevent visible signage & make cladding the walls in white panels with artistic rods pointless if you cannot see this. Remove the trees & you get a ‘nice,’ new streamlined modern look.
AMP Capital fully intends to go through with the Metro expansion despite the opposition from a significant number in the community & Marrickville Council. They are open in saying they want Metro to be the new Town Centre. The wording on their plans makes out that we will all be extremely better off if the Metro expansion goes ahead & there will be negligible negative impacts. AMP Capital have been planning this since at least 2005 so have had plenty of time & a number of expert consultancy firms working on all aspects of the process. 4 months all up of community consultation is a blip on the radar. They would not understand that many in the community would like to keep the trees of Metro & keep the building the same size as it is currently. Keeping the building the same size does not in any way impede improving the centre both in outlook, in variety of shops or the shopping experience. Frankly, the community will need to shout loud & in large numbers if there is any chance of keeping these trees.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 18th March 2011. Your submission need not be a detailed lengthy document. MetroWatch has a draft submission on their website – http://metrowatch.com.au The NSW Department of Planning prefers electronic submissions. Both the plans & the box for submissions is at this link – http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=3734
I have put up a YouTube of the Trees of Marrickville Metro. I am convinced that removing these trees is the equivalent to removing a park. The trees do an immensely important job of removing CO2 & particulate matter & improving air quality in this heavy traffic area. They add significant beauty & are an important habitat & food source for a variety of birds & flying-foxes. This has got to count for something. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAgUvoATtw0