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Prepare for big changes in Marrickville because this is just the start of high-rise

1.    The Environment Department has done aerial seeding of 1 million trees across nearly 6,000 hectares of exposed lakebeds in South Australia to ease soil acidification. “It is hoped the plants will stop a spread of toxic dust & add vital organic material to the soil, in a region which faced prolonged drought.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/28/2938871.htm

2.   Clarence Valley Council has done something amazing for the environment. Funded by the Department of Environment Climate Change & Water, they planted 300 rainforest trees for flying-fox habitat over an area of about 3,400 square metres in McLean to manage the bat population. Terrific & compassionate program, far better than the usual to just chuck the bats out or simply cut down the trees. Loud applause. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/media/DecMedia10061801.htm

3.   Yesterday I posted about Goondiwindi Regional Council chopping down Fig trees despite community opposition. Now the Council is going to spend $96,000 on floating footpaths made out of more than 80,000 recycled milk bottle caps. Using this type of footpath means they won’t have to cut the roots of trees or even worse, remove healthy trees because of roots affecting footpaths.  They said they were prepared to send this kind of money because they, “understand how important these trees are to residents.” http://www.goondiwindiargus.com.au/news/local/news/general/tree-choppers-are-really-tree-huggers/1872430.aspx

4.   Nine 150-year-old trees in Burdekin Park near Singleton are to be chopped down because bats classified as threatened species have destroyed them. Singleton Council has arranged to have a qualified bat handler assess & stay with the bats during the nights when their homes are being removed. http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/singleton-trees-cut-but-bats-guarded/1873363.aspx

5.   In NSW a research team from the science & research division of Industry & Investment NSW has managed to record thousands of calls of the Microbat for the first time, making it easier for scientists to identify & protect their habitats. Microbats consume up to 1.5 times their own body weight in one night & are a vital part of our ecosystem. They, like many other of our wildlife are threatened due to loss of habitat because of development. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/bat-man-bugs-hungry-wee-beasties-to-save-them-20100626-zavf.html

6.   Bats are thought of very differently in Italy where people have purchased more than 12,000 bat boxes at £25 each since April 2010 to combat the tiger mosquito that has infected hundreds with Chikungunya Fever. Each bat eats around 10,000 insects a night so they are a non-chemical organic approach to mosquito control. Everyone wins, except the mosquito. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/italians-recruit-bats-to-take-sting-out-of-summer-2006124.html

7.   Hornsby has a new community action group called Stop 20 who are opposed to Hornsby Council’s draft housing strategy, which includes 20-storey housing developments. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/stakes-are-high-for-new-action-group-stop-20/

8.    On 28 June at the Commonwealth Forestry Conference in Edinburgh UK, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said, “We need to show, financially, that trees are worth more alive than dead. Forests, we know, represent almost three-quarters of the world’s terrestrial carbon. Cut them down, & they are responsible for almost a quarter of man-made CO2 emissions. Tackle deforestation, & we go a long way towards tacking climate change.” He also said in 20 years time 80% of the forests that covered the earth in 1947 will be gone.   As well as the loss of thousands of species, this will also “accelerate the climate changes that destroy our other natural environments, our glaciers, grassland & coral reefs.” http://www.thecommonwealth.org/news/34580/34581/225538/280610forests.htm

9.   Chen Maoguo, a very brave man sat up in a Euclyptus tree in China for more than 3 months to protest the planned demolition of his home for the building of a shopping mall.  Mr Chen is being tried for disturbing public order. I hope he doesn’t get a gaol sentence. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/bird-man-faces-charges-in-china-for-sitting-in-a-tree/story-e6freuyi-1225885245007?from=public_rss

10.    A number of communities in the state of Massachusetts USA have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of street trees that have died as a result of underground gas leaks in degrading pipes in the National Grid. http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/quincy/2010/06/gas_leaks_are_killing_trees_in.html

11.   The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission in the US has approved $35.7 million for 6 million acres of wetlands & bird refuges across the US &  Canada. http://www.humanitariannews.org/20100617/wetlands-migratory-birds-get-357-conservation-grant-government

12.   Pavlovsk experimental station Russia, one of the world’s oldest seed banks is soon to be demolished to make way for housing.  The seed bank holds more than 4000 varieties of fruits & berries from which most modern commercially grown varieties are derived. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627663.500-vital-fruit-and-berry-collection-set-for-destruction.html

13.   8 turbines are to be put under the bridges crossing the river Seine in Paris to raise energy from the rivers currents. There is already an underwater turbine under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This article also mentions that Paris has a free bicycle scheme. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/28/paris-power-turbines-seine

14.   Chicago is going to do a census on its trees after doing one 17 years ago.  http://ht.ly/21Ht3

Watching the documentary Greatest Cities of the World on Tuesday night I learnt the finest honey in France is from a beehive on the roof of the Paris Opera House.  Not illegal, just using available good quality space.

lovely old tree in Dulwich Hill

Gloriously beautiful trees which are a huge asset to Newcastle

The community tree preservation group Save Our Figs (SoF) based in Newcastle NSW has an acute issue that is about to be decided upon by Newcastle City Council.  The Council wants to remove 13 eighty year old Hill’s Figs that line Laman Street & top Civic Park.  SoF has been lobbying Newcastle Council to search for other options rather than chop down these phenomenally beautiful Fig trees & replace them with trees that Newcastle Council have not nominated as yet.

From the SoF petition - Laman Street is Newcastle’s most beautiful street. Newcastle City Council believes the 13 figs in the street are likely to fall down in the next 5 – 15 years. They have based this on the advice of a single arborist.  The council is considering no other option than felling the trees & we believe alternatives need to be examined such as closing the street to vehicles &/or pedestrians or closing the street in storms. As it is a non-residential & non-commercial street the chance of injury by a falling tree is remote & the trees are an integral part of Newcastle’s identity.

and I complained about hammering nails into trees....

We don’t have a comparable tree site in Marrickville LGA.  Newcastle has many Fig trees, but the Laman Street avenue of Fig trees, being in the centre of town, are truly memorable because they are particularly beautiful trees.  Naturally, when a Council wants to remove trees like these that have so much history behind them, the community is going to be upset.  I doubt there would be many people in Newcastle who don’t know the Laman Street Fig trees & most hold them dear to their heart.

I have been in regular contact with Caitlin Raschke who runs Save Our Figs since the campaign started. Over Easter, we visited & went to look at the Fig trees in Laman Street.  I hadn’t seen them in 23 years, which was the last time I went to this street as part of my employment at that time. I remember how stunned I was when the taxi dropped me off & I looked up at these fantastic trees.  They haven’t changed & the feeling you get when you stand in Laman Street had just as much impact this time as it did all those years ago.  The only thing that had changed was Civic Park, which to my mind, had deteriorated significantly.  Apart from the fantastic fountain, much of Civic Park seems uncared for, particularly the memorial grove for fallen soldiers & there seemed to be less trees than I remember.

I also saw Tyrell Street, which lost a few Hill’s Figs during a major storm a few years ago.  Newcastle Council removed a number of Figs along this street & replaced them with Tuckaroos.  To me, the result looks like a scar.

Is this a practice stump? It's located the beginning of the avenue of spectacular Hills Figs in Laman Street

It is heartbreaking to think that the Laman Street Hill’s Fig trees will be chopped down.  I am in total agreement with Caitlin when she says everything possible should be done to save these iconic trees.

In Europe & especially America this would happen as a norm.  All sorts of options would be canvassed & money would be spent to save & care for trees like these which give so much back to the community in terms of air quality, carbon sequestration, pollution removal, beauty, history & homes & food for wildlife, including bats.  Just last night I was reading how Fig trees can be stabilized & the risk of them falling can be dramatically reduced by using peat-filled pipes.  These days some Councils chop off the roots that grow from the branches of Fig trees & descend to the ground.  It is these roots the tree uses to stabilize itself, as it grows larger.  If you put peat-filled pipes from the root stumps along the branches, the tree will rapidly grow new roots down through the pipe & into the ground.  Isn’t nature clever?  I guess, in time, you could cut open & remove the pipe if it was made from PVC.

Laman Street is very popular for wedding photographs because the street trees are so beautiful

The Laman Street Fig trees also provide a strong sense of presence to such central & important buildings such as the Art Gallery & others located here.  Importantly, the trees provide a popular place to get married & have wedding photos taken. Later, their children can still see, touch & play where Mum & Dad were on their wedding day.  I know this is a strong emotion for many people because of the feedback I have received about the St Stephen’s Hill’s Fig in Newtown. Those who had their wedding photo taken under this tree love it in a special & strong way.  The tree or trees gets incorporated into the story of the relationship/marriage.  This is not surprising because human beings have always associated trees with strength, longevity & wisdom & this is easily transferred over to hopes surrounding a marriage.

I must say that, like only a few people outside the LGA know how beautiful our Cooks River really is, not many people know how beautiful Newcastle is.  I wanted to pack up & move to Cooks Hill immediately.  The beaches are stunning & wild, the streets are clean, the traffic is not like traffic, droves of people were out in the sunshine, the cafés were full to bursting & the trees, well I could go on about them for hours.  Newcastle is a naturally beautiful place because of the hills, the river & the beaches. But without all those large & spectacular trees in parks & on roadsides it wouldn’t be as beautiful.  Newcastle could be called the City of Fig Trees because they have so many gorgeous Fig trees scattered about.  In my opinion, these trees make this city special.

Please pay a visit to Save Our Figs. There is an online petition open to anyone who cares about these trees. http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/laman-street-figs.html 2,500 Newcastle residents have already signed both a paper petition & the online petition & that is 2% of the Newcastle community.

Like Saving Our Trees, there has been no advertising.  It has been all word of mouth, which I think makes it stronger as a community campaign.  There are no bells & whistles to draw people in, just a love for trees & a wish that trees be saved from the chain-saw.

I would read http://saveourfigs.wordpress.com/ from the beginning. But if you find this idea too time consuming, the following pages are notable.   Caitlin’s reply to a comment gives a run down on the history of the community campaign in the following link – http://saveourfigs.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/barcelona-just-as-barbaric-as-newcastle/

The Save Our Figs home page also gives a timeline of what has been happening during the campaign – http://saveourfigs.wordpress.com/

You can read the follow-up post  written on 1st September 2010 about the Independent Arborist Report by clicking here  http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/independent-arborist-report-for-newcastles-laman-street-figs/

7th October 2011 – As this seems to be the post people are coming for information, the following posts offer more recent posts about the Laman Street Figs starting with the Councillors vote to kill the trees  -

10th October 2011 - Newcastle community fights to save the Laman Strett Street Figs – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/newcastle-community-fight-to-save-the-laman-street-fig-trees/

4th October 2011 – The final vote is to kill the trees.  http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/newcastle-councillors-vote-to-kill-the-laman-street-fig-trees/

13th September 2011-  The Figs get some fairness – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/laman-street-figs-get-some-fairness/

29th August 2011 – Not mulch yet - http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/not-mulch-yet/

26th August 2011 – Laman Street Figs Next Life will be Mulch - http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/the-laman-street-figs-next-life-will-be-mulch/

3rd August 2011 – Mediation for the Figs -http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/mediation-for-laman-street-fig-trees/

26th August 2011 – The Newcastle Councillors voted on the fate of the Laman Street Figs last night – http://bit.ly/n1BNrK

Tree-lined shopping strip in Newcastle CBD - This is what I would like our shopping strips in Marrickville LGA to look like - proof it can be done

Cooks Hill Newcastle with Stockton in the distance - note the many large street trees

Eucalypt outside 11 Union St Dulwich Hill - Council says tree is seriously sick with many other problems

1.        3 street trees are up for removal in Marrickville LGA.  One of them is a Eucalypt outside 11 Union Street Dulwich Hill that SoT & the community campaigned to save back in June 2009  http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/first-tree-at-risk-union-street-dulwich-hill/ & http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/26th-october-09-beautiful-healthy-street-tree-lives-on-because-of-you/ The other trees are in Hamden Avenue Marrickville & Railway Crescent Petersham.  I will go have a look at them & post something when I know more.

2. Save Hoskins Park was established by Dulwich Hill residents who are vehemently opposed to a DA which plans to demolish two 1920s Federation houses & build 11 modern

View of the DA site from the high end of Hoskins Park - the residents are also concerned about 2 mature park trees located close to the boundary

3 storey town houses with underground parking.  9 of the townhouses will face Hoskins Park. The community is opposing this DA for a variety of reasons.  They are also very concerned the townhouses will loom over Hoskins Park.  This is a reasonable fear because the bulk of Hoskins Park is located at the bottom of a natural valley.

SoT is concerned about this DA for 2 reasons.  Many mature trees will be removed (hopefully Council will insist that a mature Palm on the site is relocated).  The proposed development does not appear to leave any room for replacement tree planting as it seems to want to occupy all the land with the buildings & rely on the park for green space.  The DA is expected to be before Council sometime in April.

Save Hoskins Park has an active petition that I am told is heading towards 1,000 signatures.  The group can be contacted via their Face Book page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Hoskins-Park/321996854627

3.        Volunteers are needed to help local community environment regeneration group Marrickville Bush Pockets for the following dates:

  • Friday 26 March 5.30-7.30pm – barbeque afterwards
  • Saturday 10 April – 9am – 12 pm
  • Sunday 23 May – 9am – 12pm
  • Saturday 19 June – 9am – 12 pm

See http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/29th-december-09-beauty-the-beast/ to see a recent project.  Contact details are available on the Community WHAT’S

One of the 2 houses in Piggot St which are to be demolished for the DA next to Hoskins Park. It’s gorgeous from the outside. This would not be allowed in Haberfield as they are protecting their heritage.

ON page of this site.

4.             The Wentworth Courier reported that Presbyterian Aged Care NSW plans a major development at the Scottish Hospital in Paddington.  They plan to retain the heritage-listed trees as well as restore the 1848 house & the terraced gardens.  This is good development as it preserves the history & the landscaping. http://wentworth-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/hospital-redevelopment-called-in-by-state-government/

5.        The Cumberland Courier reported of a dead/dying/nearly dead 45 metre Gum street tree in Lindfield & how a resident’s 6 phone calls to Ku-ring-gai Council asking for the tree to be removed were unsuccessful, until she went public in the North Shore Times newspaper. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/ruth-s-six-requests-over-three-months-to-remove-danger-tree/

6.         Not local, but good reading anyway from the Marshfield Mail which concerns the question & answer session during a Marshfield Council meeting (St Louis USA) where the Mayor, who was totally against the city watering newly planted trees, accidentally sided with the yes vote. http://www.marshfieldmail.com/articles/2010/03/17/news/doc4ba12c5f7ca8a795218253.txt

7.        Back to local Council news – the Inner West Courier updated the drama unfolding regarding Strathfield Councillor Lim & alleged breaches of conduct as well as making 17,217 photocopies (not a typo) between October 2009 to January 2010 – http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/they-re-out-to-get-me-lim/

8.        The Inner West Courier reported that many hundreds of fish were found dead in Hawthorne Canal on the boarder of Leichhardt & Haberfield. http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/eyes-pop-as-fish-die/

The Cumberland Courier reported today of another incident of Integral Energy contractors ‘butchering’ street trees during routine pruning.  Despite the events of late January 2010 in Lalor Park (see Bakers dozen or it dozen matter below) they did it again, this time in Valentine Street Blacktown.

Quoted from the news article – The job was done so badly, an Integral Energy spokesman offered an apology to the residents & pledged to either reshape or replace the 6 trees. The pruning was “excessive 
& did not meet our standards”, he said.

Once again I thank The Cumberland Courier for reporting these matters.  I also thank the residents who were brave enough to take this company on & I thank Blacktown Council for taking action.  We will continue to suffer the effects of savage pruning unless we say this is unacceptable as well as unnecessary each time it happens & in each area where it happens. When the street trees are ruined it has a great impact on our lives for many years.

To read the article, click on the following link – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/blacktowns-butchered-trees-integral-at-it-again/

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.

Voren's photos of the street trees in Riverside Crescent Dulwich Hill

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.

There is more of this tree on the ground than what is left on the tree

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

Tempe Wetlands - how will the RTA put a major arterial road over this without destroying it?

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

A small part of the crowd

Today we went to the Walk Against Warming, which was organised by the Conservation Foundation of NSW & it was excellent.  Martin Place was packed when we arrived & I was lucky to get a space on a bench with a good view of the crowd & the stage.  Lots of photos.  The police estimated the crowd at around 15,000, though the number was easily 20,000 when, 45 minutes later the walk started.  Melbourne apparently had 50,000 people & Brisbane 10,000.

This man will save the planet

A 12 year old girl gave an incredibly articulate & rousing speech. Then she & a group of primary school children sang the winning song of a competition.  Goodness, there is talent in our community.  I have no doubt, if professionally produced, this song could be in the Top 40.

It was great that young people got to be the main speakers as they are the ones to whom we are leaving this mammoth problem.  A woman whose name I cannot remember gave a fabulous speech about how ordinary people can participate in action to lobby our politicians to take action on climate change because that’s how she got started.

The crowd was made up of people of all ages from a new born to old people needing walking sticks. The Unions were there, schools, climate & environmental groups, the Greens, mums & dads & dogs, many dogs.  There were lots of young people, which belies what I have been told that they are not interested in the issue of climate change.

Endangered Polar Bear leading the march

Apart from the Wilderness Society’s drummers, who were drumming a fantastic samba near the front of the march, it was the quietest march I have ever attended.  Everyone was polite & there was absolutely no aggression, though I imagine these events may become more vocal if our governments take no significant action in the near future.

It was a total success & I hope the State & Federal Governments take note of what is happening around the country this weekend.  My absolute respect goes to the two people who spent this hot afternoon in Polar Bear suits.  We were sunburnt, so they must have really suffered.

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