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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

Can't talk about 'dogging' without a photo of a dog-this one is smiling because his owner loves him enough to put him in a harness while travelling

1.    In Darwen, Lancashire UK, 6,000 trees were chopped down to stop ‘dogging.’  Never heard of dogging?  Neither had I.  Dogging is sex in the bush, or woods if you are English.  This 12 hectare area must have been lovely because people went there in droves.  It was next to an expressway, so perhaps they just could not wait until they got home.  United Utilities who chopped the 6,000 trees down said the trees were dangerous.  Of course they would. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7497162/Council-cuts-down-6000-trees-to-act-as-deterrent-at-dogging-site.html

2.        In Worcester USA, around 2,400 street trees & 23,624 trees on private property throughout the city died as a result of an ice-storm in December 2008 & the subsequent infestation of the Asian Longhorned Beetle.  According to the article in The Telegram, the community is devastated by the sudden & radical change to the streetscape, which is now bare & has affected property sales.  The city intends to plant 2,400 shade trees by end of 2011 to replace the street trees that were lost. http://www.telegram.com/article/20100311/NEWS/3110682/1116

3.        In March 2010 Indonesia launched the “One Billion Indonesian Trees for the World” program. There is world-wide concern regarding the rapid deforestation happening in Indonesia for palm oil plantations, so this program will help significantly. http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=484333

4.     The Brunei Times reported that Brunei will plant 60,000 trees in ecologically degraded areas during 2010 to support biodiversity.  http://news.brunei.fm/2010/03/30/60000-trees-to-be-planted-this-year/

5.        An American arborist, Gut Sternberg successfully spearheaded an internet campaign to save an historic Osage Orange tree in Kewanee, Illinois. I find this wonderful because this man used his knowledge of trees to save a tree that the council was going to remove.  I need someone knowledgeable like this in my life. http://www.ncptt.nps.gov/how-the-internet-saved-an-historic-tree-preservation-technology-podcast-episode-15/

6.       Walmart in Henderson Tennessee, America has been ordered to replace 120 of the 170 trees they topped in their parking lot.  Henderson Mayor Scott Foster said the community is “livid” & asked “how did they think they were going to get away with it?”  He would fall over if he saw some of our examples of ‘routine pruning’ by power companies.  It’s a shame because trees are the only council asset which appreciates.

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100325/HENDERSONVILLE01/100325027/2139/City++Walmart+must+replace+butchered+trees

7.      Detroit, once the mecca for heavy industry & car manufacturing is planning to change a space equivalent to ¼ of its city into farmland & community gardens to bring food supply closer to the city.  They will use the vast areas of empty houses & land to do this.  It is estimated that there is 33,500 empty houses & 91,000 vacant residential lots. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35767727/ns/us_news-life/

8.       Band Pearl Jam donated US$210,000 to Cascade Land Conservancy to plant 33 acres of native trees & plants around the Puget Sound to offset an  estimated 5,474 metric tons of CO2 created by their world tour in 2009.   Fantastic action that is getting respect from around the world.

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2010/03/31/1070488/pearl-jam-to-plant-33-acres-of.html

stunningly beautiful- a residential street in Cooks Hill Newcastle-bet everyone wants to live in this street

9.       Bridgeport USA with a population of 138,000 is planting 100,000 shade trees to help cope with summer heat.  They have launched the Adopt a Tree program where the Council will spend $35,000 on planting trees on residents’      properties.

Reminds me of Blacktown City Council who gave away 77,000 trees free to residents last year.  Bridgeport Council also plans to map all trees with 6 inch diameter & above.  Mayor Finch said, “Planting a tree gives you a feeling of empowerment & you’re helping the environment.” http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/thebridgeportnews/news/localnews/53901-programs-goal-is-planting-more-trees-in-the-urban-environment.html

Don’t know what happened below.

properties.  Reminds me of Blacktown City Council who gave away 77,000 trees free to residents last year.  Bridgeport Council also plans to map all trees with 6 inch diameter & above.  Mayor Finch said, “Planting a tree gives you a feeling of empowerment & you’re helping the environment.” http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/thebridgeportnews/news/localnews/53901-programs-goal-is-planting-more-trees-in-the-urban-environment.html

properties.  Reminds me of Blacktown City Council who gave away 77,000 trees free to residents last year.  Bridgeport Council also plans to map all trees with 6 inch diameter & above.  Mayor Finch said, “Planting a tree gives you a feeling of empowerment & you’re helping the environment.” http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/thebridgeportnews/news/localnews/53901-programs-goal-is-planting-more-trees-in-the-urban-environment.html

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