One of the main reasons why the urban forest in Marrickville LGA doesn’t get ahead is vandalism. Last planting season Marrickville Council planted 2 street trees in empty tree holes in the footpath outside 358 & 362 Victoria Road Marrickville. These had been without a tree for many years so it was good to see this area get a couple of street trees.
However, sometime after planting, the new trees had their branches snapped off & then to make absolutely sure, their tops broken off.
This area has a roaming vandal who goes out into the streets & vandalises new street trees in the very early pre-dawn hours. I know this because locals have tried to get up early enough to catch the person, but 5am wasn’t early enough.
The vandal snaps off a branch here, another there. A couple of days later, they return & break off another branch. When all the branches have gone, they break off the top just to make sure that both the community & Council gets their message …..they don’t want street trees in that area. Must be quite an aversion to trees.
Perhaps this vandal doesn’t have anything to do with these particular street trees in Victoria Road, but it is the same technique… all side branches removed & the top snapped off.
I was thinking how the community & Council might tackle this to try & prevent the range of tree vandalism that occurs yearly to newly planted street trees by members of our community.
Bayside Council on Port Phillip Bay in Victoria have an ongoing problem with tree vandalism ostensibly for water views. They found that the $20,000 fine wasn’t working so have upped it to $100,000, but first they have to catch the vandal. http://bayside-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/time-to-act-in-bayside/
In 2007 the City of Melville Council & the Swan River Trust erected a 3-metre by 1.8-metre sign in front of native bushland on the Attadale foreshore where trees had been vandalized. The sign says, “Vegetation has been destroyed by a selfish act of vandalism.” Between 2006-2007 the Council successfully prosecuted one person for vandalism & had 6 cases coming before the courts. http://www.melvillecity.com.au/news-folder/a-sign-of-things-to-come-for-tree-vandals
North Sydney Council website says, “Trees shouldn’t die for a view! Every case of tree vandalism costs ratepayers! Depending on the severity of the case, the cost to the community can be more than $8000 for investigation, signage, replacement & remediation every time it happens.” They offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to a successful prosecution with the penalty being up to $1,100,000.
North Sydney Council have a very nice & informative brochure about tree vandalism that can be downloaded from their website. It gives information about how & who to contact, has photos of different types of tree vandalism as well as information on the benefits of trees. Perhaps Marrickville Council will do something like this one day as part of a greater community education program. http://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/www/html/6786-tree-vandalism-policy.asp
Waverley Council says the following about tree vandalism in their Urban Forest Policy, “Vandalism of public & private trees not only affects adjacent neighbours but also whole streets and blocks; the wider community also suffers through the gradual attrition of mature trees from the urban landscape. Council presently responds to incidents of tree vandalism by:
- investigating all reports & gathering information
- sending notification letters to residents requesting further information
- erecting signs in streets & parks highlighting the damage
- publicising significant & blatant attacks through local newspapers
- prosecuting through the courts wherever possible.”
Unfortunately I can’t find anything about what Marrickville Council says & does about tree vandalism as their Urban Forest Management Strategy document on their webpage is not available to download. I’ll post more about this issue & what our Council & others do to try & manage tree vandalism another time.