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Planting trees at Sydney Park on National Tree Day last Sunday.

Planting trees at Sydney Park on National Tree Day last Sunday.

Tree-planting volunteers in Western Australia are waiting for official confirmation of a new Guinness World Record after planting more than 100,000 tree seedlings in one hour.  How fantastic is that!

The current record holder is India with a record of 99,103 trees, which was set in 2012.

The event organized by the ‘Men of the Trees,’ who are well known for their tree planting, gathered more than 2,200 volunteers in Whiteman Park in Perth.  Twelve hundred participants were school children.

Confirmation from Guinness World Record should happen within the next two weeks.

See – http://ab.co/1l2PZKN

Marrickville gateway to the shopping strip. The trees along here are at least 2 years old.

Marrickville gateway to the shopping strip. The prunus street tree at the bottom of the image is one of a row along here & at least 2-years-old.  Two of the trees visible around the Town Hall on the left have been removed & the pencil pines are due to be removed.

Compare with Chatswood  town centre with 4 storey street trees.

Compare with Chatswood town centre with 4 storey street trees.

I love it when I receive emails pointing me to media articles that prove to me that my observations about Marrickville’s urban forest are correct. An article in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph said -

“A survey of the city’s tree canopy shows Botany Bay has fewer trees than any other suburb, with just 12 per cent leaf cover.

Next comes nearby Randwick, with 14 per cent, and beachside Waverley is also near the bottom with only 17 per cent. Other suburbs under 20 per cent include Auburn, Marrickville, Holroyd and Strathfield.”

Suburbs blessed with a tree canopy of above 50% were Pittwater, Warringah & Ku-ring-gai. Suburbs with more than 30% canopy were Lane Cove, Hunters Hill & Ryde. Manly, North Sydney, Penrith, Liverpool & Burwood followed. These statistics were gathered by the University of Technology Sydney & compiled by the 202020 Vision.

The 202020 Vision is a national initiative that includes government, local councils, the private sector, individuals & academics. The initiative was launched in November 2013, well before Marrickville Council’s new Street Tree Master Plan was released.

The 202020 Vision has the wonderful aim to increase urban green space by 20% by 2020. They want more trees, gardens, green walls & green roofs, because these will improve the livability of our suburbs & cities, as well as the health & wellbeing of the community & wildlife.  The use of hard surfaces, increased development & a rising population is creating urban heat islands & poor air quality.

Of course the urban forest & public trees are a major part of this. I have heard some of the Marrickville Councillors saying on a number of occasions in Council Meetings that we have enough public trees & one even said that we may even have too many.  Another Councillor even wanted all the street trees removed from the historic Abergeldie Estate in Dulwich Hill.

I must say that I find it exciting to see a strong movement to increase the canopy of Sydney.  To me trees are a public health issue & the research backs me up on this.  Maybe one day Marrickville Council will publicize on their website & in newsletters such as ‘Marrickville Matters’ just how many trees they target to plant & how many they actually planted each year. That would be good.

I will post more about the 202020 Vision soon. To read the Sunday Telegraph’s article, see – http://bit.ly/1zixCtJ

Sydenham from the air. The expanse of green space is Sydenham Green where there trees are planted mostly around the perimeter and along pathways.

Sydenham from the air. The expanse of green space at the top of the photo is Sydenham Green, where there trees are planted mostly around the perimeter and along pathways.  Street trees are amost invisible.

 

This beautiful tree at the entrance of the Addison Road Centre in Marrickville was recently assessed as being aged 150-years plus.   It would be a good contender.

This beautiful tree at the entrance of the Addison Road Centre in Marrickville was recently assessed as being aged 150-years plus. It would be a good contender for inclusion in the National Register of Significant Trees.

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

A lovely Stanmore streetscape - lots of street trees, quite a bit of variety, autumnal colour, canopy over the road, even a tree in the round-about. In the surrounding blocks there are hedges & mass plantings on the corners. I wish it was like this all through Marrickville LGA.

A lovely Stanmore streetscape – lots of street trees, quite a bit of variety, autumnal colour, canopy over the road, even a tree in the round-about. In the surrounding blocks there are hedges & mass plantings on the corners. I wish it was like this all through Marrickville LGA.

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.

This is one of the most beautiful corners in Newtown. I don't know how these two Gum trees were planted here, nor why the Council chainsaws haven't arrived. Frankly, it's a miracle. No one seems to mind. There is room for one pedestrian to pass & there is always the footpath on the other side of the road. The birdsong is wonderful.

This is one of the most beautiful corners in Newtown. I don’t know how these two Gum trees were planted here, nor why the Council chainsaws haven’t arrived. Frankly, it’s a miracle. No one seems to mind. There is room for one pedestrian to pass & there is always the footpath on the other side of the road. The birdsong is wonderful.

 

 

 

 

The street trees & the verge gardens along busy New Canterbury Road would be working to prevent a percentage of the particulate matter & other pollutants from getting to the houses.

The street trees & the verge gardens along busy New Canterbury Road would be working to prevent a good percentage of the particulate matter & other pollutants from getting into the houses.  This is much better than no street trees or verge gardens.

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 -

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

I can instantly appreciate cleaner air in streets like Victoria Street in Dulwich Hill.  The air smells different.

I can instantly appreciate cleaner air in streets like Victoria Street in Dulwich Hill that have many big street trees.  The air smells different – better.

 

North Newtown streetscape providing lots of shade

North Newtown streetscape providing lots of shade.  This is a normal streetscape for this area.

Compare with a street in Dulwich Hill that actually has many street trees

Compare with a street in Dulwich Hill that actually has many street trees

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 –

  1. 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

Tall shady street trees are the norm in Chippendale

Tall shady street trees are the norm in Chippendale

Canterbury Road - this section is mega-hot on a sunny day.

Canterbury Road – this section is mega-hot on a sunny day.

While there are street trees, this is still a hot street in Marrickville

While there are street trees, this is still a hot street in Marrickville

“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.

Image by Virginia Tech University with thanks.

Image by Virginia Tech University with thanks.

Pittwater Council gave priority to this tree outside the Avalon shops. Photo by Nina Gow with thanks :-)

Pittwater Council gave priority to this tree outside the Avalon shops. Photo by Nina Gow with thanks :-)

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.

Plenty  of room for the roots now.  Photo by Nina Gow with thanks :-)

Plenty of room for the roots now. Photo by Nina Gow with thanks :-)

Screenshot of the Garden Bridge design - taken from the Daily Mail with thanks.

Screenshot of the Garden Bridge design – taken from the Daily Mail with thanks.

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.

Building is expected to start by 2015 & the bridge completed by 2017.   See – http://dailym.ai/16swg30 and http://bit.ly/16rS9zs

Close up of screenshot of Garden Bridge plans - raken from Daily Mail.

Close-up of screenshot of Garden Bridge plans – taken from Daily Mail. These are big trees.

 “…even 500 trees growing over a gold deposit would only yield enough gold for a wedding ring.”

“…even 500 trees growing over a gold deposit would only yield enough gold for a wedding ring.”

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

click here to follow Saving Our Trees on Twitter

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