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Next Sunday 27th July is National Tree Day. To commemorate this day, the National Trusts of Australia has, in a world first, put together a national register of 25,000 significant trees. Information about these trees will be available on a new website & also available as an app. This means that you can look for significant trees while you are out traveling the country.
You can also nominate any tree that you think is significant. The tree/s you nominate will be assessed by the Significant Trees Committee for each state ot territoty to see if they are suitable for inclusion in the Register.
This is not just about celebrating trees, but also about their protection. A registered significant tree has a greater chance of being protected from development. Not always, but any tree is safer being on a National Trust Register.
To get a national map like this is very special & I predict that it will be a popular download both for residents & visitors to Australia.
The National Trust of Victoria has an excellent free app that maps & provides information on more than 24,000 significant trees in Victoria. I have long enjoyed perusing this app because of the photographs & often detailed information about the trees. You can download this app here – https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/trust-trees/id426819442?mt=8
You can download the National Register of Significant Trees app on & after National Tree Day here – http://trusttrees.org.au
Planet Ark has just released their 2014 research in the lead-up to National Tree Day – ‘Valuing Trees: What is Nature Worth?’
The following are just some of the research findings -
- “Australians would be willing to pay an average of $35,000 more to buy a home in a nature-filled neighbourhood than for an identical home in an area with little nature.
- 4 out of 5 Australians (78%) said they would prefer to live in a home with many natural elements, such as trees, plants and a garden, over one that does not have these features.
- Having a home with a backyard and living in a “green” neighbourhood with trees, parks and gardens was rated as more important than being close to work, having easy access to public transport, and having good shops or a shopping centre nearby.
- More than two-thirds of Australians (68%) agree that living in a neighbourhood with lots of trees, gardens, and parks would reduce their stress levels.
- 2 in 3 Australians (66%) agree they would be more likely to do outdoor exercise if they lived in a green neighbourhood.”
Trees are a public health issue. Having lots of good trees & a visible canopy makes for happier & healthier communities. Marrickville Council should allocate more funding in the annual budget to allow the urban forest to be increased & also to create equity of streetscape across the whole municipality.
You can download Planet Ark’s full Report or the shorter Key Findings here. It is an interesting read – http://treeday.planetark.org/research/
National Tree Day is celebrated across the Australia on Sunday 27th July 2014. Marrickville Council will be holding their National Tree Day event two weeks later on Sunday 10th August from 10.30am – 1.00pm at Tillman Park Sydenham. Council says the community will be able to participate in “planting local native trees, shrubs, sedges, grasses, ferns and groundcovers.”
The staggered dates will give us a chance to participate in other National Tree Day events held locally, as well as our own.
The City of Sydney & Planet Ark’s National Tree Day event is held on the traditional date – Sunday 27th July 2014 from 10:00am – 2:00pm at the southern end of Sydney Park. Participants will be able to experience the joy of planting trees. Last year’s event was fabulous. They plan for the community to plant between 4,000 & 5,000 trees during the event. This is a small forest! Judging by previous years crowds, I’d say the target will be achieved, probably with time to spare. Can you imagine how great 5,000 trees will look as they start to grow! It is a nice feeling to walk past growing trees that you have helped plant & I imagine that this feeling is even greater for children who helped plant a tree/s.
I’ll post a reminder of these events closer to the date.
A month or so ago I watched a segment on the television program ‘Trust me I am a Doctor’ about how an experiment with birch trees placed along a high traffic street impacted on air quality. See -http://bbc.in/1fjuxnm
The results were surprising, particularly because these were only small trees in pots. The experiment, developed by Professor Barbara Mahar from the University of Lancaster England consisted of twenty-four young Silver birch trees in pots lined up along the footpath beside four terrace houses. The trees were left in place for two weeks. The adjoining four other terraces were also included in the experiment.
Prior to installing the trees, the computer & television screens were cleaned in all terraces. They were then left on stand-by as these items produce static electricity & would continue to collect airborne dust & particulate matter.
At the end of the fortnight, all the computer & television screens were cleaned again. The air pollution collected on the screens was found to 50-60% lower in the four terraces that had the birch trees between them & the road, showing how vital street trees are for collecting particulate matter, dust & other pollutants from passing traffic.
Whether this percentage of protection happens with all street trees is not known, but the birch trees were chosen specifically because their leaves have hairs & ridges, which collect small particles. It may be that birch trees are found to be superior trees at collecting air pollution.
Every tree collects particulate matter & other air pollutants on their leaves, though it may be that some are better at collecting than others. According to the article, trees with a denser canopy are not as effective at trapping air pollution as are the sparse canopy Silver birch, which allows for free airflow. Denser canopy trees tend to collect pollution at ground level, where people are.
Rain cleans the leaves allowing the process to start again. Deciduous trees would only provide this benefit while they have leaves.
Vehicle exhaust releases very fine particles of particulate matter (PM), which is breathed into our lungs. From there it enters our cardiovascular system. “A recent government report [English] suggested that as many as 29,000 people a year die because of breathing in too much PM.”
The article lists three ways to limit exposure of particulate matter when outside -
- School drop off zones have high levels of particulate matter because of all the idling cars. “So a quick drop-off, & fewer cars at the school gates is important.”
- To reduce your intake on particulate matter when driving, especially when stuck in heavy traffic, keep the windows & vents closed. Also keep some space between you & the car ahead.
- Cyclists are advised to avoid routes with heavy traffic. Pedestrians are advised to walk as far away from the traffic as possible & also avoid walking along streets with heavy traffic. See – http://bbc.in/1tSRh1m
A 2013 study by the Laboratory of Aviation & the Environment at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that premature death caused by air pollutants was the highest from road transportation – that is vehicle exhaust. http://bit.ly/1k0tbtH
The humble street tree continues to demonstrate its worth. They provide the community with many benefits, including better respiratory & heart health. It is already known that residents in suburbs with fewer trees have poorer health, so increasing the canopy must be a priority.
There is an interesting article in The Conversation written by Prof. Rod Keenan & Benjamin Preston, both from the University of Melbourne.
Some points in the article –
- Victoria currently has an average of 9 days per year of temperatures above 35C. No action on greenhouse emissions will likely result in an average of 21 days a year with temperatures above 35C by 2070.
- “Combine that with increasing urban density, more hard surfaces & less greenery, & a larger, older & more multicultural population, & the potential impacts from heatwaves start to multiply rapidly.” Think of the development already in Marrickville municipality & the huge amount of development to come.
The Authors suggest two ways to help mitigate this & I think these are applicable Australia-wide –
- Increasing the ‘green infrastructure’ by 10%. Green infrastructure means street trees, parks, green roofs, green walls & retaining water.
I’d suggest 10% is the absolute minimum, but can you imagine the positive change if the Marrickville urban forest was increased by 10%.
The City of Melbourne is planning on increasing their urban forest canopy cover from 22% to 40%. The City of Sydney is aiming to increase their urban forest by 50% by 2030 (just 16-years away) to help lower the urban heat island effect.
- 2. Education.
“Health awareness programs can promote related benefits such as improved air quality; planners can reduce the red tape involved in planting street trees; local governments can identify priority neighbourhoods for development, protect existing greenery, & implement water-sensitive urban design.”
“Increasing green infrastructure will also require the use of private space – one major challenge will be to give private landowners the incentive to keep or install greenery & incorporate vegetation into building design.”
Although Sydney has not experienced a true heatwave this summer, it has been very hot. Melbourne & Adelaide both experienced two heatwaves this January, baking over a number days. On 16th January, Adelaide was given the title of ‘the hottest city in the world’ with a temperature of 44.2C, still short of the forecasted 46C.
An article on Care2 discusses the American city of Phoenix trying to cope with 100-degree nights. “The city averages more than 100 days a year with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees. (37.7C) In 2013, 115 days hit 100 degrees. In 2011, the city set a new record for days over 110 degrees (42.3C) with 33. That’s over one month of the year with scorching highs. This winter has so far been warmer than average.”
Temperatures are rising everywhere. The urban heat island effect is increasing those temperatures, & importantly, not allowing the temperature to drop after the sun goes down. Phoenix has “a shade plan for the built environment & also a plan to “frankly just plant more trees.” See – http://bit.ly/LuA1xC
We need to start planting now in both private & public spaces if we are to ever hope to be able to cope with projected temperatures. Sydney’s temperature is expected to be like living in Rockhampton in Subtropical Queensland. See – http://bit.ly/1aLsaYf
Marrickville Council needs to decide how much to increase the urban forest & set & meet targets to achieve this. The yearly budget allocation needs to be such to allow this to be achievable. I have often wondered whether public trees & parks are lower down in the budget & whether these are seen as not as important as grey infrastructure.
Certainly we need to do what we can to keep the trees we have & this means treating them for diseases, fertilizing, mulching & pruning where necessary.
In my opinion, the community needs to help Council keep new trees alive by continuing to water trees once a week when Council has stopped water 12-weeks after planting. It only takes a few hot days to lose a tree & if we look realistically, the bulk of our street trees are living in very harsh conditions. Many are either hemmed in by concrete or in visibly dry & compacted soil.
I know there are many who will baulk at the idea of watering a public tree, but it is commonplace in many countries overseas. The US for example, has a strong community involvement in public trees, whether planting them or looking after them. Both the US & the UK have community ‘Tree Wardens’ looking after public trees. These people are not tree experts. They receive training by their Local Council to do the work they do.
Keeping that tree alive will help reduce your power bills as they help cool the air around your house. Street trees clean up the air by removing particulate matter from vehicles, so better quality air comes into your home. They also increase the value of your residence or business amongst many other benefits, so it stands to reason that taking care of the tree outside your property brings significant returns. Better a living healthy tree, than a dead tree or a sapling that struggles to grow & may take many years to reach a decent size.
Older larger trees are far better at carbon sequestration than smaller trees – another reason why it makes sense to look after them.
You can read the full article here – http://bit.ly/1mQumNW
“Few residential trees die of ‘old age.’ Mechanical damage and improper tree care will kill more trees than any insects or diseases.” This poster ‘How to Kill a Tree’ by Virginia Tech University (1996) was posted to my Facebook page. It’s so good I decided to share it here.
Like me, you have probably seen a lot of these yourself.
Click the photo for a larger image.
Three cheers for Pittwater Council who recently decreased the car parking at the Avalon shops by one space to accommodate the encroaching roots of this beautiful street tree – instead of chopping it down.
Research has found that a leafy shopping area increases consumer spending by around 11 per cent, so it is in the interests of the businesses along here to keep all the trees they can. It’s great to see priority given to a tree over a parking space.
In 1997, Actor Joanna Lumley had an idea to commemorate the death of Dianna, Princess of Wales by building a garden bridge over the Thames. To many this idea may have seemed too ‘out there’ & too unfeasible.
Today community consultation starts on the design of the ‘Garden Bridge’ across the Thames from Temple to the South Bank. Called for by London Mayor Boris Johnson & designed by Architect Thomas Heatherwick CBE, the garden bridge will have real trees. “…the renowned gardener Dan Pearson, …. has a vision of 100 plant species, starting with ancient botany on the north side & changing through the glades & scarps to a pioneering planting on the south side.”
‘We are used to quite a harsh experience in the architectural landscape around us. Often environments don’t have a human scale, but plants give you that. There is something unpretentious about them — this project will have slugs & worms & autumn smells, rather than grand, Versailles-like power-planting.” ~ Architect Thomas Heatherwick CBE.
We are changing. Cities are changing. The knowledge that trees & plants are good for people’s levels of happiness & well-being is becoming part of good architecture & good urban design. With no cars & a landscape full of trees & plants, plus a water & city views, the Garden Bridge will be an extremely important & beautiful site in London. It will most certainly fill the City of London’s aim of providing somewhere for people to meet. The Garden Bridge will also be high on the list for tourists to visit. This taking iconic to a new level.
Before you read this post, remember the words of Martin Luther King who said –
“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold & silver.”
The following is some truly fascinating research by Perth CSIRO Geoscientists who have found gold particles in the leaves of shrubs & trees.
“CSIRO researchers believe the trees, sitting on top of gold deposits buried deep underground, suck up the gold in their search for moisture during times of drought. The particular trees that we did the research on appear to be bringing up gold from a remarkable 30 metres depth, which is about the equivalent of a 10-storey building.”
It is expected that this finding will have a positive impact on mining surveys, as gold deposits may be found by testing the leaves of shrubs & trees, reducing the need for drilling. So money really does grow on trees. See – http://ab.co/1cU3ie2
Something exciting is happening this month if you like trees & cycling.
Sydney Cycleways, an initiative of City of Sydney Council, is holding a group cycling tour of the city’s historic & culturally significant trees selected from their Register of Significant Trees.
The tour will take cyclists to see a range of magnificent, veteran & special trees in Hyde Park, Cook & Phillip Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Macquarie Place, Observatory Park, St Johns Anglican Church Glebe, finishing at Pope Paul VI Reserve in Glebe to see the light artwork, ‘Earth V Sky’ at sunset.
“Earth V Sky is a dynamic artwork by artist Allan Giddy, composed of the City of Sydney’s first wind turbine and new technology which continuously samples the colour of the sky. Using this data, 9 lights bathe two magnificent Moreton Bay fig trees in a spectrum of coloured light during sunset. The lights appear to fade in gently & are initially barely noticeable on the trees at close range. They subtly increase in intensity over an hour, moving through a spectrum of colours in response to the sunset, reflecting the reverse colours in the sky. The lights then fade to black, along with the night sky, after 1 hour & 15 minutes.”
You can watch a 1.5 minute YouTube video of ‘Earth V Sky’ here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gPePpsOVbQ
The organisers say it will be a relaxed ride of around 10 kilometres. This should be fun.
WHEN: Sunday 27th October 2013
WHERE TO MEET: Sydney Town Hall steps. 483 George Street Sydney
For more information, including the trees on the route see – http://bit.ly/19Yac3i
Marrickville Council has released a report on their recent community consultation regarding our urban forest. They gathered this information in four different ways –
- Telephone survey of 400 residents.
- Web survey – 391 people took part.
- Stakeholder workshop with the Environment Committee & the Cooks River Committee.
- Review of Customer Service complaints & requests regarding street trees.
The majority of the 400 residents who participated in the telephone survey believed Marrickville LGA to be attractive. More than half said this was because of trees & plants on the streets. The rest believe the best way to increase attractiveness was to increase trees, plants & greenery. A whopping 20% did not want street trees in Marrickville Local Government Area.
Those surveyed had the following preferences for street trees –
- Evergreen & native Australian trees or trees endemic to Marrickville LGA.
- A mix of two or more species in the same street.
- Between 10-15 metres in height.
- Broad spreading thin canopy that provides filtered shade.
The online survey had similar results with more people concerned about care & maintenance of street trees. Some reported problems with street trees.
Council’s review of complaints & requests regarding street trees showed that 39% concerned pruning a street tree, 18% reporting a hazardous street tree & 16% requesting a street tree be removed.
No information was given about the outcomes from the stakeholder workshop with the Environment Committee & the Cooks River Committee.
The Draft Street Tree Master Plan ideas in brief were –
- Increasing the canopy cover.
- The identification of many new planting sites, particularly planting in-road & in industrial areas.
- Planting medium stature trees, which are larger than what is currently the norm for almost half of our street trees.
- Replacing short stature trees with medium stature trees over time.
- Planting locally indigenous & native tree species to improve biodiversity.
- Include water sensitive urban design in identified sites.
- Planting the right tree for the right place to increase shade, while not blocking solar access.
- Reconsider planting street trees in verges less than 1.5-metres wide.
Although the Tree Inventory identified 263 public tree species across Marrickville LGA, which sounds good, over 45% came from only five species. These are –
- Callistemon viminalis (Weeping Bottlebrush)
- Melaleuca bracteata (Black Tea Tree)
- Tristaniopsis laurina (Water Gum) – very slow growing,
- Fraxinus griffithii (Evergreen Ash) – classified as a new & emerging weed in NSW. Both the Global Compendium of Weeds & ‘CRC for Australian Weed Management’ classifies Fraxinus griffithii as an environmental weed, &
- Lagerstroemia indica (Crepe myrtle).
The report went on to say under the heading of ‘Planting Trees for the Future,’ that Council will –
- Improve the range of tree species planted.
- Increase the urban forest canopy by planting in industrial areas.
- Plant taller larger growing trees on the side of the street that has no powerlines &
- Investigate in-road planting opportunities.
- They will also investigate the installation of Aerial Bundled Cabling to allow trees to grow around powerlines.
I must say that I am pleased with these results. Findings such as planting locally indigenous & Australian native trees did not surprise me, nor did planting evergreen trees. The number one complaint I hear about street trees is leaf litter. It is not an exaggeration to say many people despise leaf litter. I’ve lost count of the people who have told me they want a street tree removed because it drops leaves.
16 per cent of residents requesting a street tree be removed is quite high a number when you think about it. Hopefully this will change for the better with Council’s plan to plant the right tree in the right place. There was no information regarding how many of these requests are granted.
I was shocked that one fifth of those surveyed did not want street trees. This affirms the urgency for Council to educate the community about the value of trees. If people knew that trees increase learning ability in girls, calm down children with ADHD as well as adults with dementia & reduce violence as well as many other benefits, they might see trees differently.
If the 20 per cent got their wish & we did not have street trees, property values across the whole municipality would plummet. Recent research has shown that respiratory illnesses, heart disease & fatal heart attacks would increase significantly. Depressive & anxiety illnesses would also skyrocket.
In Marrickville municipality we cannot afford NOT to have street trees because there are not enough trees on private property to make up the difference. Both people & wildlife rely on the many benefits street trees provide.
It would be great if Council could continue their education about the benefits of the urban forest with every opportunity that arises. Certainly the information, stories & photos about verge gardens in Marrickville Matters is having a positive impact with what seems to be a boom of enthusiasm towards & the actual creation of new verge gardens across Marrickville LGA.
I love that Council will be investigating opportunities for in-road planting. All the best streets have these & although some car parking spaces are lost, the benefits are worth it in my opinion. In-road street trees definitely increase property values as well as improve livability.
I am also very pleased that taller growing trees will be planted on the side of the road where there are no powerlines. It just makes sense. That industrial areas will be planted with trees is also a terrific outcome & will most certainly make these areas much nicer for the workers, as well as increase food sources & habitat for our wildlife. It may also reduce sick leave according to research about the impact a view of trees has in work environments. More trees mean more birds & more birds makes for a nicer living environment.
Council is offering the community another opportunity to give feedback on this report. You can download the report here – http://yoursaymarrickville.com.au/document/show/267
The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 30th August 2013.