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This image come through to me on Facebook today & made me sit up straight & take notice. The small spheres on planet Earth depict the global water & air volume. Frankly I found it a scary image in light of the current & ongoing massive air & water pollution affecting the planet. It visually depicts exactly what we need to conserve & take care of to keep us alive. Trees help of course.
It is well worth reading the information from the Science Photo Library, which goes into detail about what the image means. – http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/159214/enlarge
The Smarter Earth Institute has done separate calculations to see if the image is correct & according to them it is. That also makes for interesting reading. http://www.smarterearth.org/MeFTWaterAndAir
Marrickville Council has recently replaced the concrete footpath & created verge gardens along Mansion Street Marrickville South. I think they look terrific & greatly improve the streetscape. The street trees now have an opportunity to collect sufficient water when it rains & the gardens themselves should reduce stormwater runoff. There are no problems for pedestrians as there are wide pathways from the roadside to the footpath placed at regular intervals.
Considering that Marrickville Council spends in excess of $2-million every year just on mowing grass verges, I think verge gardens like this would be a far better use of our rates. Imagine what $2-million could do each year if it were put into planting street trees & landscaping our streets & parks. It wouldn’t take too long to significantly green up our landscape.
Research has shown that the greener the environment is, the happier & healthier people tend to be. Verge gardens are also beneficial for the environment. They help collect stormwater & pollution from passing traffic & if planted with wildlife-friendly plants, could also provide a food source for our urban wildlife.
We know a good-looking street tree increases the property value of those near it, so it’s only logical that verge gardens & a better-looking streetscape would also improve property values. Green really does equal money when it comes to real estate, especially in high-density areas like the Inner West.
Of course there are streets in Marrickville LGA that do not have room for verge gardens or where they would be impractical, but many could have them. If verge gardens are put into the right places, they should not impede pedestrians or people leaving vehicles. The size of the verge gardens I have seen across Marrickville LGA mean that people pushing prams or shopping trolleys can do so without difficulty.
On the newish verge gardens in Livingstone Road Marrickville, Council has put a concrete path from the kerb to footpath opposite the front gate of all the houses facilitating unobstructed movement from car to house. This has been repeated in all the other verge gardens I have seen. Where multiple verge gardens have been created along a street, there is a pedestrian pathway to the footpath every few metres big enough for a wheelchair, pram or trolley. Council also don’t put plants on the kerb-side of the garden so that people don’t have to exit the passenger-side of the car into shrubbery that could cut their legs or cause them to fall.
My experience of Marrickville Council is that they are highly vigilant when it comes to safety so I can’t imagine them putting in a verge garden where it would cause people problems.
If Council were not spending all their time mowing grass verges, they could be managing the verge gardens instead. Apparently, once they are grown, verge gardens look after themselves & only need a bit of occasional weeding. There is always room for other plants so if property owners wanted to add other plants, they could. They just need to be safe plants for passing pedestrians, children & dogs – so no cacti or other plants that could cause injury, nothing that could cause difficulty for passengers leaving cars & no high-growing plants that could reduce visibility for drivers.
I know this is a contentious issue in the community. I’ve heard arguments against verge gardens that residents should not have to look after the verges, therefore grass verges must continue. My personal opinion is that verge gardens have much in the way of benefit & there is no reason why Council cannot continue to look after these areas. Some people say they like grass verges & I appreciate that. I don’t dislike grass, but I much prefer plants & flowers.
The reality is the climate is changing & as a society, we must make changes that will help lower the urban heat island effect or we will be condemning ourselves to be living in an oven. Grass verges are less effective at cooling through evaporation than plants & trees. A dried out grass verge can take on the qualities of hard surfaces, not absorbing rainwater well. Grass requires a lot of water & maintenance to keep looking good & does nothing to help with biodiversity.
We know that the particulate matter in air pollution comes from vehicles & coal power stations causes respiratory disease, including asthma in both children & adults as well as heart attack related death. Now 2 new research studies done by entirely different research groups in Germany & the USA have shown that particulate matter also increases the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes.
… the new data provide important & more rigorous evidence that real-world pollution may be tampering with blood sugar control in a large & growing number of people.
The researchers used proximity to roads — where vehicles would be a major pollution source — as a proxy for exposure to fine particulates. Women who developed diabetes were more likely to have lived nearest to heavily trafficked roads.
Compared to the 25% of women living farthest from busy roads, the relative risk of developing diabetes was 15% higher for the 25% of women living closest to major roadways.
There is a growing body of literature suggesting that people with diabetes may be more susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution.
All the more reason why we need to start planting more street trees, especially on & around main roads. This issue is fast becoming one that will have serious impacts on our health system. It makes sense to use nature to try to lessen the impact of our 21st Century lifestyle as money spent now may help mitigate the financial cost of disease in the future.
It’s well worth reading the full article – http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/63971/title/Air_pollution_appears_to_foster_diabetes
I wrote about this issue here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/living-close-to-a-main-road-is-bad-for-your-health/ &
AMP, which owns Marrickville Metro, plans to expand the shopping complex by 35,000 sq mts, more than doubling its size. They intend to bypass planning restrictions from Marrickville Council & apply to the Joint Regional Planning Panel under Part 3A. In my opinion it is highly likely that the plan will get the go ahead from the JRPP, as they seem happy to permit development that local Councils have indicated they are likely to refuse.
The Marrickville Greens are opposed to the proposed expansion of Marrickville Metro & you can read what they think about the issue by clicking on this link – http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/issue/marrickville-metro-expansion/ I am unaware what Marrickville Labor or the Independent Councillors think about the proposed expansion.
On AMP’s Marrickville Metro web-site they say their research showed:
- One in 2 people found the idea of an expanded Metro “very appealing”
- 81% of Marrickville LGA residents thought that an upgraded Metro would serve the community better
- 58% liked both strip shopping locations & shopping centres
Apart from the obvious impact this development will have on our local shopping strips & issues like increased traffic, pollution & delivery trucks, SoT’s main concern is the probable loss of all the mature trees which surround the Metro site & all the mature Eucalypts which line the surrounding roads.
Around the perimeter of the current Marrickville Metro there are 54 Figs, 13 Brushbox, 3 Camphor laurels, 1 Peppercorn, 1 Palm. There are 11 mature Eucalypts on Smidmore Street. This is a total of 83 mature trees & I did not include the smaller trees.
Looking at the drawing of the new Metro on AMPs web-site I would consider all these trees at risk of removal. The artist’s impression of what the finished development will look like is interesting. The drawing of the new Metro shows 3 London Plane trees & lots of paving.
AMP say they want feedback from the community. They don’t appear to be asking how we feel about the expansion or whether we want it or not, but what kind of shops & amenities we would like. Regardless, you can write to AMP & give feedback. firstname.lastname@example.org
Personally, I don’t want a bigger Metro. Two supermarkets are enough for me. I definitely do not want all those trees chopped down. I believe that for the Inner West we need the opposite to concentration of large volumes of traffic towards 1 block of land. A sustainable inner Sydney needs shopping strips near where people live as opposed to being forced to use their car & travel for kilometres each time they go shopping.
AMP’s Marrickville Metro web-site is at the following link – http://www.marrickvillemetroshopping.com.au/developmentupdate.amx
Yesterday I received an e-mail from Voren, a local resident which included a bunch of photos of mutilated street trees on Riverside Crescent Dulwich Hill. These photos are a perfect example of how the streetscape can be ruined by pruning for electricity cables. I was extremely happy to receive these & welcome any photos or addresses of public trees you think is worth the attention of SoT. My e-mail address can be found on the About me page.
On 26th January 2010 the Cumberland Courier ran another street tree article titled Tears for mutilated trees. This time the residents of Lalor Park were distressed at the state Integral Energy left their 50-year-old street trees after pruning for overhead wires. Terms such as “hacked,” “massacred,” “mutilated” & “butchered” were used to describe the aftermath.
Back in October 2009 Blacktown City Council put Integral Energy on notice about their pruning practices after they had pruned the trees in Riverstone & surrounding suburbs.
When they saw what happened to the street trees in Lalor Park, Blacktown Council stepped in & suspended Integral Energy’s powerline clearance pruning work.
Integral Energy apologised & now has to work under the supervision of Blacktown Council, review their tree pruning practices & fulfil a range of other requirements.
Hallelujah! Finally a municipal council stepping in to ensure the street trees are not mutilated to the point where it is questionable whether they will survive, where the streetscape is marred for many years, where once beautiful trees are ruined forever & where people have to lose an essential part of what makes a street a desirable place to live as well as the negative impact on property values. It may be that a council has stepped in before, but apart from Mosman Council doing so many years ago, I am unaware of this.
The Lalor Park residents say they no longer have shade on the street or footpath. I can attest to that as my own street lost the shade from the street trees after recent pruning by Energy Australia. When the sun is overhead we now have the long shadow of the electricity & pay TV cables instead of shade from street trees. Frankly it looks weird & of course it is hot.
You can’t stand under a street tree having a chat to your neighbours anymore. You have to look for shade & move to it, either on private property or walk across the road where the street trees were only slightly pruned. This apparently small thing will have an impact on community relations over time.
This is a great article from the Cumberland Courier with much more information than I have reported. You can read it by clicking on the following link – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tears-for-mutilated-trees/ I thank the Cumberland Courier as they have been reporting on trees frequently of late.
Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco USA recently posted a call for help on their web-site asking residents to alert them to public trees which have been illegally pruned.
Friends of the Urban Forest & the Bureau of Urban Forestry (don’t you love these names) have planted 10,928 new street trees in San Francisco since 2003.
About street trees they say, “The small, younger trees currently provide very little environmental benefit…” meaning that if older more mature trees are removed due to heavy pruning which weakens them or makes them way too ugly, then replacing them is not as good as a solution as it seems on the surface. Personally I am worried that in our LGA we will reach the stage where we will have more young trees with thin trunks than we will have older trees.
Older trees sequester greater amounts of CO2, filter more particulate matter & other pollutants (though you need leaves to do this & there are plenty of trees with thick trunks, but with relatively few branches & leaves after pruning in Marrickville LGA), produce larger amounts of oxygen & collects more storm water runoff than does a tree with a thin trunk.
We can already see in some areas of our LGA that the skyline has few tall trees. I think it is a shame that we can count the trees visible along the skyline. This is not the case in many other suburbs of Sydney metropolitan area where the overall look & feel is green because their canopy is substantial.
We need to keep as many of the large stature street trees as we are able & our young trees need to be given a chance to grow up because it is then they provide the most benefit. Severe pruning clearly demonstrated in Voren’s photographs not only makes the tree ugly & negatively impacts the streetscape & our lives, but also weakens the tree making it more susceptible to disease. A weakened & diseased tree will be more likely to fall in a storm or some other event that places pressure upon it.
I do understand that street trees need to be pruned for the passage of overhead wires & I have never advocated that this should be stopped. I do believe however that our electricity companies can do a much better job of pruning & Blacktown Council’s intervention has proved this.
The article by Friends of the Urban Forest is interesting reading & describes the impact of over pruning & topping. They also have some fantastic photographs of trees that have been severely mutilated. You can access this via the following link – http://www.fuf.net/getInvolved/topping.html
On a final note, a local community group called Tempe 2010 is holding a rally on Saturday 6th February at 11am meeting in South Street (between Hart & Fanning Streets) Tempe. They are opposing the building of a new arterial road that is to go over the Cooks River, across the newly renovated Tempe Reserve & over the top of the lovely Tempe Wetlands ending at a t-section at Sydney Park.
SoT is interested not only because of the obvious factors of more roads, traffic, noise & pollution, but also because the Tempe Reserve is likely to be grossly affected & the damage to the wetlands is a real concern. There is also the question of how many trees will need to be removed to build this new road.
All the details as well as how to access information from the RTA about this project & to connect with Tempe 2010 can be accessed via the Marrickville Greens web-site http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/
The Greens have been in the Inner West Courier about this issue recently & have stated they are against this project as it stands. I hope the other councillors look into the impact of the new arterial road & decide to publicly oppose it if it is indeed as environmentally destructive as it seems to be. I say ‘seems’ because I haven’t looked into the literature as yet.
We cannot keep building cities for cars instead of people. Four vulnerable assets; the Cooks River, Tempe Reserve, the many old park trees & the Tempe Wetlands need to be fought for & protected by both Marrickville Council & the community if this project negatively impacts on these. One visit to these areas will show you just how much work Marrickville Council & community groups have put into improving all these sites over the years. I think this is a worthwhile event to attend & find out what we need to know to make an informed decision. It is also good to support a community group who is working to save quite significant assets for our benefit & for future generations. J