In the Council Meeting of 6th December 2011 Clr Macri said the following, “We are running out of suitable places to plant trees. We are scratching our heads where to plant trees. Staff are trying to find places to plant the 500 trees each year. Trees are being planted on top each other.” http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/report-from-the-gallery-6th-december-2011-part-1/
I found this information quite disturbing & have noticed that some of Clr Macri’s questions to staff appear to seek information on money wastage as a result of planting street trees. I agree with Clr Macri that far too many new street trees die & that this is a waste of tax-payers money.
Unfortunately, some of the tree deaths are to be expected. Vandalism is hard to control &, if they choose, Council could embark on a long-term educational program from school-age upwards to get the message out to the community that tree vandalism is not acceptable & ultimately has a negative impact on their life, their health, happiness & value of their property. It is important that the message include that vandalism has an equally negative impact on the rest of the community. Devalue your property by poisoning a large tree & you will certainly be devaluing your neighbour’s property. Depending on the length of the street, perhaps this tree loss devalues the whole street or a good section of it.
I don’t know how many new street tree plantings die from vandalism. I don’t think Marrickville Council knows either. What I do know is that Marrickville Council waters new street trees for only 12-weeks, when many Councils water their new trees for 2-years. It’s obvious which management approach will increase the survival of new trees. Unfortunately, changing this has not been raised in Council since I have been attending.
Urban Forestry is a growing industry that has undergone some significant changes in the past decade. Those who have control of the budget have realized that global warming is going to have a massive impact on living conditions in cities & urban areas & that the old paradigm of managing trees will not carry us into the future. A local example I have mentioned before is that the City of Sydney Council is intending to increase their urban forest by 50% to try to mitigate the impacts of global warming. London, New York, Chicago are great examples of cities that are planting huge numbers of public trees to ensure that these cities are decent places to live when the affects of climate change really hit. Cities have been found to be 5 degrees hotter than suburbs & this is rising annually. Street trees are known to lower the urban heat island effect, which in turn lowers power consumption for air-conditioning.
Much research has been done in recent years about the urban forest & some of this I have posted here. The following is just one of the benefits of the urban forest in terms of the economy. I will post more about the economic benefits of trees & about the other benefits – social, environment & ecological in later posts.
ATTRACTING THE SHOPPER’S DOLLAR – It’s well known that a leafy green shopping strip attracts shoppers. They tend to linger because the environment is nice & as a consequence spend around 11% more.
I’m surprised the shop owners along our shopping strips are not lobbying Council to plant more leafy trees & make their areas look more appealing. Tiles on the footpath don’t really make much of an impact & they cost an extraordinary amount of money. I wonder whether planting leafy street trees, putting planter boxes at regular intervals along the footpath & hanging baskets from the awnings would have more of an impact & perhaps cost less than tiling the footpath.
Drivers cannot see floor tiles on the footpath so are not able to see the beautification effects, whereas they can see trees, planter boxes & hanging baskets of flowers. The City of Sydney Council have done this in many of their shopping strips. Big, vibrant hanging balls containing flaming-red Begonias hang from awnings every 5-metres. They remove half a car space to plant leafy trees, not columnar trees, rather trees that have a broad, cascading canopy. The streetscape attracts shoppers & if there is a café near a tree of this type, it’s usually booming with business. Good coffee is important. Combine good coffee with a great streetscape & this is a business that will work.
Our shopping strips are all signs, windows, different & often clashing or glaring paint colours & footpaths covered with globs of chewing gum. The areas designated as rest areas or green space such as the ‘I have a Dream’ square in Newtown & Alex Trevallion Plaza in Marrickville are used by people because this is all that is available, but they are not beautiful spaces & they are not inviting.
The closest Marrickville Council has come to what I am talking about is the shopping strip in Audley Street Petersham. This area has street trees, art & plants. It looks good & it certainly has benefited the business as outside dining is now quite pleasant. However, go around the corner into Old Canterbury Road & it’s back to the familiar streetscape of signs, windows & footpaths covered with globs of chewing gum.
Leichhardt Council has capitalized on the tourism draw-card of Norton Street by making much of the street a green & leafy place to visit. People like this & many ask me if I have been to Norton Street, before starting to talk about the trees & the streetscape.
We have a number of areas in Marrickville LGA that attract tourists. We are well know for the alternative, artistic culture of King Street & Enmore Road, the food of Marrickville & Illawarra Roads, the Portugese influence of Petersham shopping streets & Parramatta Road has an ever-changing range of pop-up shops. These places already do good business, but they could be much, much better if they were made nicer looking & more people-friendly & this would translate into dollars for the businesses. What makes our LGA so fantastic is the artisans, the diversity of shopping, the great cafes & restaurants & these are here despite the ugliness of certain areas. More later.