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Today I drove through the city to Darlinghurst. As I don’t get to the CBD often, my drive through the city held a number of surprises. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my camera with me. My apologies to those who see these things every day.
First, there is a major high-rise building being built at the new Central Park complex at Broadway. It looks to be the first building of the residential section called One Central Park. What grabbed my attention were the green walls that are being planted & even at this early stage one can see that they are going to be fantastic.
I’m used to seeing photos of amazing green walls in other cities on social media so it is wonderful that something so innovative & friendly to both people & the environment is actually happening in Sydney. You can see a 3D visual plan of the Central Park complex here. It’s green. http://www.centralparksydney.com/master-plan/
As we took the turn into Pitt Street towards Eddy Avenue, the view down George Street was of tall green trees & shade everywhere. It really surprised me. I used to work at this end of George Street & the transformation is incredible. My first thought was that the major arterial road in the CBD could be lined with tall street trees, yet we can’t have the same across suburban Marrickville LGA?
Oxford Street in Darlinghurst was also filled with tall leafy street trees. There were also massive pots of red Begonias hanging from smart poles giving a wonderful burst of colour wherever you looked. Taylor Square has a large water fountain. Don’t tell me it happened 10-years ago. It is now a very colourful pedestrian plaza & looks great.
We parked in Darlinghurst & noted the large street trees everywhere. Being a boiling hot day it was pleasant to be out on the street as shade covered much of the footpaths as well as the road itself. Canopy is not token here. The street trees cascade over the road & are planted close enough so that their canopy links with the street trees next to them. It’s visually very beautiful.
All street trees were surrounded by a permeable bitumen surface. This would prevent any tripping in such a high pedestrian traffic area, but also not create a space for litter to collect.
So I drove away from leafy Sydney into Marrickville LGA. I have long noticed the differences in canopy between the suburbs of our municipality & between the municipalities that border us. As the City of Sydney increases their canopy a further 50%, the differences between us will be stark & no longer something people will ignore or I think even accept.
Apologies. This is a long post, but I believe the issue is important. From memory the debate for this item lasted around 3-hours.
This was the Council Meeting. Absent: Clr Gardener. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine. Note: MC = Marrickville Council.
The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR: Iskandar/Central, Haylen/North, Tsardoulias/West, Woods/South. GREENS: Phillips/Central, Ellsmore/North, Brooks/West, Leary/South. LIBERALS: Gardener/North, Tyler/West INDEPENDENT: Macri/Central, Hanna/South.
Tree Management – Inventory, Master Plan & Policy Framework – The state of the Marrickville Street Tree Urban Forest are drawn from the Street Tree Inventory Report. For a summary see – http://bit.ly/PURYpe
The recommendation was to -
- receive & note the report;
- provide a capital budget of $170,000 in 2013/14 for street tree removal & replacement;
- where capital renewal reconstruction works are undertaken & conflict exists between a street tree & footpath renewal made with concrete, that conflict shall be resolved by removal & replacement of the tree & installation of the concrete footpath; &
- advise & clearly enunciate any changes to the policies & controls governing tree management within the Marrickville Local Government Area.
There were 10 speakers (including myself) against the recommendation & 1 speaker for the recommendation. For brevity I will outline the issues discussed rather than each speech. The report was described as draconian, shocking, contentious, preposterous & something that inflamed the community.
Issues raised were – Removing street trees fails to acknowledge the value of the tree to the urban environment. The report does not look at other options & other technologies to deal with roots other than tree removal. There was no community consultation. The assessment of public infrastructure is that concrete will win over street trees. Education & consultation needs to happen & this needs to be done street by street. Questioned why community consultation is to happen 10-months after tonight’s decision. Size of tree hole needs to be looked at. There is a need for peer review of the report. There is an inequity of our urban forest compared with other Councils around Sydney. Exorbitant cost ($1,000) to plant a sapling. Climate change & the importance of trees to create a livable environment. Losing older, taller trees that are the very things that make our environment pleasant. Changing community attitudes recognize the value & importance of the urban forest. Contradictory elements in this report compared to the Urban Forest Policy. Council failed to consult with the Environment Committee. The removal of 3,960 trees will leave an enormous hole in the urban forest. The high loss of newly planted trees. Planting new trees over the tree roots of the removed tree, thereby setting the new tree up for failure. The large trees will be lost. We are beset by pollution & need all the help from trees we can get. We do recognise problems with trip hazards & that there are dying & dead trees that need to be removed. Concerned that trees will be removed without the opportunity for the community to comment. Trees should be marked for possible removal with the community given 1-month to comment. Section 5.9 of the LEP sets out the policy of how trees are managed & removed. The LEP has the force of the law. Clause 4 clearly states the requirement for community consultation. There is a huge contrast with the City of Sydney who are increasing their urban forest. They have doubled their trees & want to double this again. Lack of shade increases the Urban Heat Island Effect. Lack of aesthetics results in increased rates of violence in the community. MC’s Urban Forest Policy is more a ‘vision’ & if the recommendation is approved it will be a step in the wrong direction. MC has already adopted water-sensitive designs. Replacing impermeable surfaces with permeable surfaces is a better solution. The Urban Habitat Mosaic is important & concrete can be replaced with an understory. There can be mini-raingardens that water street trees & filter water before it gets to the Cooks River & this will save MC money on watering. MC should involve the community in planting as giving us ownership of trees will lower bills. This is a blanket approval to cut down trees. Only 1 person’s wage per year is being spent on maintaining newly planted trees – no wonder they die. Replacement trees are not canopy trees. We are planting too small & too few species. Trees are not maintained. We are in for a 4-degree rise in temperature & heat waves are predicted. On a recent 41-degree day, thousands of trees died. Bitumen becomes a heat trap. Humans need to keep cool. Trees prolong the life of house paint & concrete footpaths. Would MC be legally liable for the loss of property values? The recommendation is in strong contrast to every MC survey, which advocates for more trees. MC should respect trees & not see them as liabilities. They should show vision & best practice for large trees that are more robust than short trees. Big trees are carbon stores & lower the Heat Island Effect. A tree should only be removed after all avenues have been explored & only after consultation with the community.
And finally this gem – The Urban Forest Policy says that 42,500 trees had been planted. The Tree Inventory said there were 22,608 street trees – so where are the other 47% of missing trees? Only half the trees that have been planted have survived.
The speaker for the recommendations spoke about the following issues – Safety is a big issue. Hard to navigate a wheelchair safely around & over roots & people often need to go onto the road. I have 600mmm access for the wheelchair. MC wants us to get reports that cost thousands of dollars if we want a tree removed that is causing property damage. It should be easier & cheaper for people to have trees removed. The new trees on my street did grow. Tall trees are not stable. The first priority is safety. We need to get the balance right.
Clr Tsardoulias: Moved the motion, but delete point 3. MC staff should look at porous & flexible pavement & stop using asphalt to repair footpaths next to trees. The main issues are serious trip hazards. There is a large incidence of liability over people tripping on our footpaths. Verge gardens are increased. Staff needs direction. If a tree is ready to collapse, staff should do something about this. We need to balance the issues with growing a canopy, maintaining trees & minimizing trip hazards. We need to trim trees & take action when there is an issue between the tree & footpath.
Clr Hanna: If I am going to fix trees in Silver Street then I want to talk to residents of that street. I want to consult with the people living in that street. Clr Tsardoulias: We should talk to all the residents around the tree & plant the right tree or 2 or 3 trees. We have a significant problem & need to do a lot – asap.
Clr Phillips: I’m quite horrified with the recommendations to take a chainsaw to the numbers of trees & that concrete has priority. It’s not with current community attitudes & our own guidelines. It looks at trees as liabilities, not as assets. Large, older trees, particularly Eucalypts will be the trees removed & they are giving a huge impact on the LGA. Pulling out the Eucalypts will change the Australian look to the LGA. We haven’t peer reviewed, sent the report to the Environment Committee or had community consultation, yet we are giving such a strong recommendation. The Street Tree Masterplan is a great idea, a more holistic view & it’s what MC & community needs about removing trees. To make major changes to our other tree policies should require community consultation. Moved amendments – MC refers report to the Environment Committee & this audit be peer reviewed. Maintenance should be included in the $170,000 budget. MC defers any non-urgent work until the Street Tree Masterplan has been adopted.
Mayor Macri: We are talking about removing 98 trees at a cost of $170,000. The rest is renewal within 4-5 years & part of the Street Tree Masterplan. We are voting on 98 trees now. MC self-insures. Trees have been identified as a risk & MC must protect itself. MC spends $23 per tree per year. We have to remove trees. We want to gain canopy. 117 trees are dead. 18% are poor structure. 70% are mature. We have to take a balanced approach & we need to start from the beginning. We have never done it this way. We can’t take an alarmist approach. Once the concrete comes up, that’s the best time to see the roots & sometimes they need to be chopped off.
Clr Ellsmore: There were more than 250 submissions in a petition in under 24-hours. Serious questions have been raised by the community. 80% of trees in my street have cracked the pavement. It is important to remember than the community has gone through a long period of community consultation. Why has the report not been sent to the Environment Committee? Everyone wants a Street Tree Masterplan & have community engagement.
Clr Haylen: We need to take the safety of our residents, which is a genuine concern. Clr Tsardoulias’s amendment, when we are renewing an entire street, the Urban Forest Policy provides the guidelines whether that tree stays. Repair footpath every 2-years or every 10-years? Trees make our place a better place to live. I don’t support a further review. It’s an audit. Next step is a Street Tree Masterplan. Let’s find those vacant spots. Clr Hanna: If the Director was here he would tell you how many people fall on the footpath. We have a lot of older people. Safety comes first. Trees come last.
Clr Leary: Staff need to look at other pavement options, stop using asphalt & consult with residents over verge gardens. Staff also needs to consult with residents of affected streets. (These were incorporated into the amendment.) Clr Tsardoulias: We want to grow & balance services. Fixing cracked footpaths & planting the right trees in the right place.
The amended motion by Clr Tsardoulias – That Council:
- Receive & note the report.
- Refer the report to the Environment Committee.
- Provide a capital budget of $170,000 in 2013/14 for street tree removal & replacement.
- Where capital renewal reconstruction works are undertaken & conflict exists between a street tree & infrastructure, the guidelines outlined in the Urban Forest Strategy should be followed.
- Advise & clearly enunciate any changes to the policies & controls governing tree management within Marrickville LGA.
- Council staff look at other paving options, including porous flexible paving & that staff stop using asphalt for reconstruction of pavements.
- Council staff look at options to increase the number of verge gardens & sustainable gardens.
- Consult with the residents of the streets affected.
- Defer any non-urgent actions arising from the report until the Street Tree Master Plan is completed & adopted & a thorough community consultation is completed.
Vote – unanimous. Motion Carried.
Thanks if you managed to read all of this. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow. Jacqueline
I found the following about the ‘Green Sydney Plan’ on the City of Sydney Council’s Green Villages website – http://bit.ly/OBZsMy Sydney Council plans to increase the tree canopy cover by a whopping 50% by 2030 as well as create wildlife corridors using locally-indigenous plant species.
They also plan to create more green walls & verge gardens to deal with stormwater runoff as well as collaborate with property owners to create green walls & green roofs. I was sad that green walls & roofs were not included in Marrickville’s newly completed LEP. I myself heard an Architect at a meeting of the Joint Regional Planning Panel answer a question from the panel as to why green features such as walls & roofs was not included in the design. His answer was that the LEP did not require him to look at this, so he didn’t.
This showed me that, for the most part, Architects will not start to incorporate these kinds of green features in their designs until this becomes a requirement (to at least look at incorporating them). With so much development coming our way across Marrickville LGA, I fear that we will have developments approved that are less than what they could be to take us into the next 60 years where the climate is expected to be very different. Attributes like green walls & green roofs have so many benefits & would definitely help make life easier & cheaper for people residing in them as well as being great for the environment.
City of Sydney Council have developed a Footpath Gardening Policy which will allow “residents & businesses to place a planter box on a public footpath, or establish a garden on a verge or nature strip without a development application, subject to safety & access.” Marrickville Council has done the same with verge gardens, but not planter boxes as far as I am aware.
Hopefully businesses will catch on that a pretty frontage created just by installing a planter box filled with greenery or seasonal flowers will pay them back in increased patronage.
The interest in verge gardens by residents is growing with the recognition that the streetscape can benefit from greening & beautification, as well as wasted land being used for growing purposes. The ‘Sustainable Streets’ initiative in Chippendale is moving at great knots & motivating a lot of people by showing that it can be done & that it is a great way to bring the community together. I will post an update on their developments soon.
One other thing Sydney Council mentioned was including the community in a range of ways, including ‘junior rangers.’ I’m not sure what this means, but if it means people looking after parks & talking to people about not trashing the place with litter & all the other antisocial behaviour that impacts heavily on other park users & the environment such as what I have been posting about that occurs routinely in Tempe Reserve, then this will be a fantastic initiative.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says, “Having high-quality open space is very important for the health & happiness of our community. We know that trees & other plantings help absorb carbon pollution & help cool our city. Well landscaped streets also provide more enjoyable spaces for the local community & support local businesses & retailers by making our villages’ attractive destinations.” She’s got that right.
You can download the Masterplan here. It’s a great document that holds a lot more information than just where they intend to plant trees & is easy to read. – http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Council/OnExhibition/documents/Plan-Greening_Sydney_PlanDOCUMENT-FinalDraftpre-exhibitionSet2011.PDF
Last August 2011 Council adopted the Marrickville Urban Forest Policy & Strategy. At that meeting Council asked staff to compile advice on increasing the urban forest canopy over 5-10 years & look at what other Councils were doing with their urban forest. See – http://bit.ly/MfVzaH
The Marrickville Urban Forest update returned to the Council Meeting last Tuesday. I did not attend.
Marrickville Council’s paper said, “There are approximately 22,000 street trees in the Marrickville Council area. In the current 2011/12 financial year, tree planting consists of 80 street trees & 12 park trees funded from the Capital Budget and up to 430 street trees are expected to be planted with funding from the Operating Budget subject to weather conditions.” Total – 512 trees.
According to the paper, the Street Tree Inventory commenced at the beginning of June 2012 & is to be completed sometime in July 2012. “Council is proposing to allocate funding in the 2012/2013 & 2013/2014 Capital Budgets for preparation of a Street Tree Master Plan.”
Council will use the i-Tree analysis software suite to assess the percentage of canopy cover across Marrickville LGA & consider making their findings available to the community online. The cost of compiling a “complete urban forest data entry & analysis in the i-Tree software” will cost up to $20,000.”
Marrickville Council sent a questionnaire to 11 Tree Management Officers on other Councils about their current tree management strategies. 7 responded – “Burwood, Canterbury, Leichhardt, North Sydney, Ryde, Parramatta & City of Sydney Councils.”
- “4 out of the 7 councils had a holistic concept of all urban tree assets, both public & private, (such as an urban forest) that had been endorsed by the Council as part of its strategic tree management.
- 5 out of the 7 councils had measured the extent of all urban forest canopy (both public and private).
- 6 of the 7 councils had a stated goal in relation to increasing the extent of urban forest canopy. These ranged from:
- Providing for no net loss of urban canopy, over time;
- A general goal to increase canopy;
- One council which used international canopy cover recommendations to calculate target of 35.5% but the last measurement showed existing cover at 34% in 2008; and
- City of Sydney Council is developing a draft policy, includes targets for 2030 & 2050.
- 3 out of the 7 councils provided specific funding to achieve increased urban forest canopy (over & above normal maintenance & replacement planting).
- 3 out of the 7 councils have a comprehensive asset condition register for all trees maintained by Council.
- 5 out of the 7 councils have a Street Tree Master Plan or similar strategic document to guide the future planting of street trees. All except one had been adopted by council resolution.”
Marrickville Council says they “will be in a stronger position to commit to specific canopy increase targets when the street tree inventory & street tree master plan have been developed & if remote canopy estimation were to be undertaken.”
I was told that there was debate with some of the Councillors giving examples of people not liking street trees & the mess they create. I’d say this dislike of street trees is higher at this time of the year because of the Council’s preference to plant deciduous street trees.
All you need to do is drive around to see just how many Prunus varieties & other deciduous trees there are. If you consider fallen leaves messy, then many parts of the LGA are looking dreadful at the moment. Me – I love fallen leaves & think they are quite beautiful. I also would have no problem sweeping leaves out on the footpath without feeling that this is a job for Council to do, but I know many think this is only Council’s responsibility.
The report was noted, so the issue will return in the future, which is great because this is the only way we get comprehensive information about the urban forest.
Last week I spotted something interesting that Pittwater Council is doing to improve the visual outlook of the municipality.
Having long disliked buildings that are painted in garish colours like lime green, bright yellow, bright red or even striped in an attempt to make the business more noticeable & perhaps trademark it, I think what Pittwater Council are doing is quite revolutionary as they are doing this with trees.
As part of their ‘Tree Replenishment Program’ aimed at increasing the tree canopy, Pittwater Council have said that the Leightons Cypress Pine is an undesirable species & are encouraging residents not to plant it. Instead they give free advice to residents on what plants & trees are suitable & grow well in their area.
They also have a ‘Scenic Streets Register’ made up of pretty streets that have been chosen by local residents. This is such a great way to get the community connecting with their environment & thinking about how street trees can make or break the visual outlook of a street. It would be great if our own Marrickville Council could do both their own version of the tree replenishment & the scenic streets programs.
Regarding the Leightons Cypress Pine, Pittwater Council’s Landscape Architect said, “Its bright lime-green colour & rigid form contrasts against the soft greens & greys of native plants which dominate the local landscape.”
It’s the little things that count. These three initiatives will ultimately increase the urban forest in Pittwater LGA & support residents to plant what will work & make the area more beautiful, instead of creating hotchpotch or areas that can be an assault on the eyes. We would certainly benefit from increasing the urban forest & perhaps one day Marrickville Council will address paint colours & signage for building exteriors for shops & shopping strips. But this last wish is perhaps being too radical. http://www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/home/news_highlights/trees_and_hedges_in_the_spotlight
The City of Melbourne’s urban forest comprises of 60,000 public trees & 20,000 private trees. Unfortunately, the city will lose 44% of its trees within 20 years because their trees are aging. Climate change is also having an impact on Melbourne’s urban forest, which has just experienced 10 years of drought & high temperatures. To mitigate this the City of Melbourne are planting a range of tree species that will better cope with global warming now so there will be an urban forest in 20 years time to provide food & habitat for urban wildlife as well as all the health benefits trees provide to the community.
The current percentage of canopy cover of public trees is 22%. Melbourne City Council aims to increase this to 40% using large canopy trees.
The Council plans to plant no more than 5% of one species, 10% of any genus & 20% of one family.
Melbourne Urban Forest Strategy is described as a ‘legacy document’ & the Council are inviting & encouraging the community to be involved in the planning & decision-making of which species of public trees will be planted in their precinct.
There is nothing to stop Marrickville Council doing the same thing, except a willingness to prioritize the urban forest & spend the money needed to achieve this. If the canopy cover isn’t increased significantly in the near future, I don’t believe that we will fare well when our municipality gets hotter.
I love what the City of Melbourne is doing. I love their attitude & respect for the urban forest. I love that they are including the community & want them to have a say in how their streets will look in the future for their children & their children’s children. I really love that the urban forest will increase by almost 100%. It’s going to be so beautiful. I love that global warming is being factored in to the Council’s decision-making. Lastly, I love that this is all planned & there is nothing hotchpotch about it. Melbourne’s public trees are spectacular. With a graduated system of removal & replacement, plus the planting of many thousands of extra trees, this city will continue to be a green jewel in our land.
Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy – excellent 4 minute video. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BplUmxFCE8A
For years when driving along Salisbury Road I have thought I must stop & have a look at this beautiful street. I never have.
Recently I was walking in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park & instead of putting my attention towards the church wall, steeple & canopy of trees within the church grounds as usual, I looked the other way & between the boundary trees, saw a street full of Hill’s Figs. I realized that this was the other end of the street I had always meant to have a look at.
It is Northwood Street Camperdown, lined with beautiful mature Hill’s Fig trees that have created a gorgeous canopy over the street. It’s like walking through a green tunnel & reminds me very much of Laman Street Newcastle. Northwood Street is peaceful, shady, cool & filled with birds so it sounds nice too. I would guess the age of the trees to be around 80-years-old. It looks like over the years some trees have been lost, but the overall feel remains.
Ausgrid (the new name for Energy Australia) have done something wonderful by putting up aerial bundled cabling eliminating the need to do any further pruning for power lines. This was especially nice to see as it is recognizing the history & value of these street trees.
When doing a Google search to see if there was anything written about the Fig trees of Northwood Street I happened across the February 2011 edition of ‘Branch Cuttings’ – the newsletter of the Sydney & Northern New South Wales Branch of the Australian Garden History Society. The lead article, ‘Wauchope’s & Newcastle’s figs to stay’ written by Eva Cassegrain & Stuart Read made for very interesting reading. http://www.gardenhistorysociety.org.au/branches/sydney_&_nthn_nsw/branch_cuttings_34_feb_2011.pdf
The article lists where now historic Figs were planted around Sydney as well as in Wauchope, Sawtell & Newcastle & also mentions the mature Hills Figs that were removed last year from Wahroonga Railway Station much to the community’s dismay.
The main section of the article speaks about the median avenue of Hill’s Fig trees in Hastings Street Wauchope planted in 1938. “Over the years 2007-2010 there has been an active public campaign to protect these against proposals to remove them due to complaints of damage by roots to plumbing on adjacent properties also because of invasive roots causing trip hazards, dislodging paths & walls. Wauchope received a wonderful christmas present when Hastings Valley Council decided to preserve the trees in the block from Young to Bain Streets.” To fix the problems the Council installed a root barrier & planted gardens underneath the trees. The before & after photos show a profound difference & illustrate the benefits of retaining these trees for the streetscape.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing the Laman Street Figs were thought to be safe from the axe. Not so, as the strong community opposition to Newcastle City Council’s decision to proceed with removing these trees continues.
In amongst this great article, the street trees of Northwood Street Camperdown rated a mention. “Northwood Street Camperdown is another example of an avenue of Hills figs under pressure of removal, thwarted so far only by vigorous resident opposition.” It was very nice to read that the residents have stopped the removal of these trees. Northwood Street residents have benefited from these trees by raised property values, much beauty & wildlife & lower bills for cooling. It’s worth a stroll down Northwood Street. I should have stopped here years ago.
I feel it is a shame we can’t have more of these trees planted in appropriate places around Marrickville LGA. We do have a few suitable places that remain as barren areas. A large canopy tree in these locations would improve the streetscape dramatically & add much needed green to the skyline. Planting a Hill’s Fig or two in the vast areas of lawn in some of our parks would also be beneficial as the trees would provide shade & beauty. Most people love large Fig trees & because they live so long, they become part of the community’s history.
Hills’ Figs can be managed by installing root barriers when planting them which increases the options of using them as street trees (in appropriate places). The article also says, “San Francisco still uses them as street trees but with careful management including use of root barriers. Spain & the Canary Islands use Hill’s figs proudly in town squares, plazas & streets. Beirut sports Hill’s figs in similar situations.”
The Australian Garden History Society have regular lectures, outings & publications. If this newsletter was any indication, their publications should be great & of special interest to those interested in gardening, gardens, soils, trees & so on. You can find them here – http://www.gardenhistorysociety.org.au/ & the Sydney & Northern New South Wales Branch page - http://www.gardenhistorysociety.org.au/branches/sydney_&_nthn_nsw/
I made a short video of the Figs of Northwood Street Camperdown -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j99XA6E6SLc
This was the Council Meeting. Absent: Clrs Phillips, Peters & Iskandar. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine. Note: MC = Marrickville Council. People have requested that I identify which ward each Councillor is in & whether they are Labor, Green or Independent. To keep the size of the post as short as I can I will write this at the top of these posts.
LABOR: Iskandar/Central, Wright//North, Tsardoulias/West, O’Sullivan/South. GREENS: Phillips/Central, Peters/North, Byrnes/North, Kontellis/West, Olive/South. INDEPENDENT: Macri/Central, Thanos/West, Hanna/South.
Item 5: Resident petition to remove & replace Norfolk Island Hibiscus street trees in Harrow Road Stanmore – Council staff recommending removal & replacement of 24 street trees in 2 stages, 5 years apart & to replace with a single species of exotic deciduous trees. [There are actually 27 of this species of tree in Harrow Road].
One resident spoke: Said she had a 50 ft high Jacaranda & Fig in neighbour’s gardens that drop litter in her yard all year round. MC got their count wrong; actually 27 trees. 23 households signed, but 70 households in Harrow Road. Spoke to a resident in Harrow Road who was not aware of this & was very distressed. Asked that all the residents be notified & have a meeting with Council staff. We all need to care for the environment & MC recently adopted their Biodiversity Strategy. I saw only 5 trees with bugs & saw parrots & 2 other bird species. The trees probably provide food for flying foxes & micro-bats. There had only been a handful of complaints in 10 years with most only asking MC to prune & sweep the footpath. We don’t know what the petition says. My mother used to tell me not to touch prickly seeds, caterpillars, bugs or walk on bindi-eye & then walk in the house with my shoes on. [The list was long & I didn’t not manage to write all the examples down]. No medical evidence or evidence about the house was provided in the report. I saw no bugs on letterboxes or bins, only on some of the trees . Is this a reason to take out 27 trees? Leaf litter is the responsibility of MC, not to chop down all the trees. I’ve asked the media to report on this to inform the community of this outrageous proposal. [She spoke about a decision from the Land & Environment Court that said residents have a responsibility to clean up & dispose of litter themselves]. MC has the responsibility to prune trees. I don’t think there is a case to remove these trees. The trees outside house numbers 40,42 & 46 look like they have been poisoned. Look in the forks of the trees & see if there are drill holes. One has a huge drill hole at the base. This is outrageous. These trees belong to us; the whole community. MC shouldn’t be removing street trees because of these issues.
Clr Thanos: Moved the recommendation. MC’s responsibility is to clean litter on streets, not in front gardens. This is a public health problem because of skin irritations. I’d hate to see a child die as a result. Staff are moving to prevent this. The excessive litter is a massive impost on the residents. If we want to manage the trees we will have to nuke because of the bugs.
Clr Olive: Foreshadowed motion: MC to write to residents asking if they would like their tree replaced. The trees taken out in stages doesn’t seem to relate to the complainants. It’s better to go to the complainants & ask them. We should replace with Jacarandas & not take out these trees unnecessarily from residents who may not be bothered. There are plenty of this species across the LGA. This tree does not have a history of causing medical reactions to people.
Clr O’Sullivan: I would support Clr Olive’s suggestion. These trees are quite prolific across Marrickville LGA. They are medium-sized trees appropriate for under overhead wires & attract large amounts of nectar-feeding birds. MC just endorsed the Biodiversity Plan, so should keep this in mind. I am also aware of the Land & Environment Court who laid down principles in relation to removal of trees because of leaf litter & fruit. Clr Olive’s suggestion is practical & cautious. The replacement trees should fit in with our biodiversity strategy & we should plant native trees. Jacarandas shed large amounts of flowers & leaves. It is worthwhile for our MC experts to do some hard thinking about this; trees that will allow sunlight through, but not necessarily deciduous.
Clr Kontellis: Not supporting Clr Thanos’s motion. This has a history of one complaint a year. This sets a dangerous precedent if we do start down this road. Every time we get a complaint our action is to cut down the trees. I think this is wrong & we should condemn the poisoning & damage of trees. [She spoke about the mature Hills Fig trees in Margaret Street Dulwich Hill that were recently poisoned & said one had been improving. See - http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/poisoned-fig-trees-in-dulwich-hill/ ] One tree [in Margaret Street] has been poisoned again. That the trees outside number 40 have been poisoned
is a real concern. It’s illegal & we should use the law. If our building was smashed we would call the police. I’d have some discomfort supporting Clr Olive’s foreshadowed motion, asking whether they want to remove their trees. These are not their trees.
Clr Macri: I support the motion & support the staff. It’s not just about bugs, it’s about their quality of life if people have a fear or paranoia about bugs falling on them. A deciduous tree would offer more amenity & the new trees will be looked after the community instead poisoning them. This is their street, part of their life. Replace with suitable trees. We are running out of suitable places to plant trees. We are scratching our heads where to plant trees. Staff are trying to find place to plant the 500 trees each year. Trees are being planted on top each other. Consultation will happen once we vote. The recommendation is passed, the proposal is to remove the trees. We need to allow the process to continue. It’s not about sweeping up leaves.
Clr Olive: Ask house numbers 4, 10, 40, 54, 56 & 64 if they want their trees replaced.
Mayor Hanna: I don’t have the petition in front of me. If any residents want the trees removed, no one is here. I want to consult with the community. I will vote for Clr Olive’s motion just for consultation with the residents. If the residents really want it, I will vote for removal.
Clr Thanos: MC will have to spray [the trees] yearly for the [Cotton Harlequin] bugs with chemicals that pose a health risk. What is more important, the health of the residents or the trees? I’m disgusted that MC will put the residents at risk. These trees pose a health risk. We can’t delay. We should be consulting with the residents at least on today’s proposal. MC is removing the trees, but will be consulting with the residents. If the residents feel that strongly that the trees should be kept, then MC will reverse the decision. The Act is clear – when the tree is a nuisance, we should remove the trees.
Vote Clr Thanos’s motion: For – Clrs Thanos, Tsardoulias & Macri. Against: Clrs Wright, O’Sullivan, Olive, Kontellis & Byrne. Lost.
Clr Olive: Mine is a sensible low-impact way. [He mentioned once living with this species of tree in his garden.] I’ve never had any bug problems. They also have needles. I just decided not to rub them into my skin. Clr O’Sullivan: We need to target specific people in the street. We have thousands of these trees in the LGA & if we start to act on their alleged health risk, we are opening up a can of worms. We are opening up to community hysteria. Let’s look at the specific people & if they want their trees removed, fine. Amendment: Replacement trees should be natives consistent with MC’s Biodiversity Strategy. This was absorbed into Clr Olive’s motion.
Clr Kontellis: I am against chopping down 27 trees. I’d like to write to people & mention we condemn poisoning & that we will be prosecuting. We should be increasing the street cleaning for Harrow Road. Removing the trees should be the last & I include Clr O’Sullivan’s native trees. We need to say that removing trees is the absolute last option. Staff: Regarding street cleaning in Harrow Road – We sweep every 3 weeks in summer, every 8 weeks in winter. We struggle to reach this. [He said something about doing more street sweeping here will take this service away from other streets].
Clr Olive: I didn’t absorb Clr Kontellis’s foreshadowed motion because it broadens to all residents in the street, whereas mine concerns those who want their trees removed. I lament chopping down these mature trees.
Vote Clr Kontellis’s motion: For: Clrs Kontellis & Byrne. Against: Clrs Olive, Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan, Hanna & Macri. Lost.
Vote for Clr Olive’s motion: Against Clr Thanos. For: Clrs Olive, Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan, Kontellis, Byrne, Macri & Hanna. Carried.
I last wrote about this issue here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/public-tree-removals-in-stanmore/ Here ends part 1.
Agenda item Number 5 for next week’s Marrickville Council Meeting 6th December 2011 recommends -
1. “Council undertake to remove & replace the 24 Norfolk Island Hibiscus Street trees in Harrow Road Stanmore (My count is 27 trees)
2. the removal & replacements be phased to occur in 2 stages approximately 5 years apart,
3. the first stage of removals comprise the 11 trees located between numbers 2-30 Harrow Road,
4. the second stage of removals comprise the 13 trees located between numbers 40-64 Harrow Road, &
5. the replacement trees be comprised of a single appropriate deciduous species so as to afford winter solar access & summer shade benefits to south west facing dwellings.”
“The approximate cost of required works is as follows -
- Removal -
- Phase 1: $9,000
- Phase 2: $13,000 (including escalation)
- Replacement (contract planting of 100L size trees with 12 weeks maintenance period) -
- Phase 1: $28,000
- Phase 2: $39,000 (including escalation)”
- TOTAL: $89,000
A petition of 27 residents has been sent to Marrickville Council asking that the street trees be removed. Council states that they have received a total of 11 complaints about the street trees from Harrow Street residents since 1999. In brief –
- 7 of these were about ‘seasonal infestation’ by Cotton Harlequin Bugs with 1 resident also writing about Rosella nests & possible bird lice.
- 2 were about flower litter with 1 resident adding that the seedpods produce ‘glass-like’ hairs causing skin irritations & get stuck in their feet.
- 2 households complained in February 2011 about the ‘glass-like’ hairs getting stuck in their feet & causing skin irritations to their children, babies, pets, fruit litter & possible damage to their property by roots of the trees. See report for more details – Item 5: 6th December 2011 - http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/council/meetings/businesspapers.html?s=438169853
The 11 residents who wrote to Council have legitimate complaints, but what a nightmare. The community will lose 24 (or 27?) street trees, an average of 8-metres tall. Apart from the issue of climate change & tree loss, urban wildlife will be the biggest losers. These trees are habitat for Cotton Harlequin Bugs, a harmless jewel-like bug with many different patterns. They are well known for their maternal care as they guard the eggs & nymphs until they are old enough to fend for themselves & fly off to live out their lives. Even though they feed by sucking the sap of the tree, they do not harm the tree. For great photos & more information see – http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_stinkbugs/Harlequin.htm
Many bird species are all through these trees, eating nectar & feasting on insects. With the amount of birds that I witnessed during 2 visits, thought really needs to be given that any new planting will produce food for the birds. Council has recently started planting a new variety of Bottle Brush that looks spectacular, but flowers for a maximum of 3 weeks & interestingly, the birds don’t pay the flowers much attention. The flowers are probably all colour & pizzazz, but low producers of nectar.
The Norfolk Island Hibiscus has recently been added to the list of ‘exempt from protection’ trees in the Marrickville Development Control Plan 2011. However, their Draft DCP 2010 (the only one I could find) says Council may refuse to grant consent to remove trees if, “The tree is part of a wildlife corridor or provides habitat for wildlife; and/or the reason for removal is substantively aesthetics/emotive & relates to leaf, flower, seed &/or twig drop.” I would say that these trees in Harrow Street fulfill all these criteria. Norfolk Island Hibiscus trees are on many Australian councils lists of recommended street trees.
Council is recommending the following deciduous trees as replacements –
1. Trident Maple (Acer buergeranum) – A native of China, that grows to 5-20 metres high with a canopy of 6-7 metres & produces yellow flowers in spring. The seeds are known colloquially as ‘whirly-gigs’ because they have papery ‘wings’ & can fly long distances in the wind.
2. Claret Ash (Fraxinusangustifolia ‘raywood’) – A cultivar of the Ash tree predominantly found in Europe, Asia & North America & grows to 15-20 metres. The dark green leaves turn claret red in autumn. It’s described as having invasive roots. The WA Water Corporation recommends planting no less that 6-metres from a sewerage pipe.
3. Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) – A native of South America that grows 12-15 metres high x 8 metres wide & produces lavender bell-like flowers during spring. Jacarandas drop a large amount of leaf & flower debris as well as tough seed pods 5-7.5 cm in diameter. It’s described as having invasive roots. The WA Water Corporation recommends planting no less than 6-metres from a sewerage pipe.
4. Golden Rain Tree (Koelreutaria paniculata) – A native of China & Korea that grows 10-metres high & 10-metres wide. Produces yellow flowers in autumn 5-8 mm diameter seeds that look like Chinese paper lanterns.
5. Leopard Tree (Caesalpinia ferrea) - A native of Brazil that grows 10-12 metres high x 5 metres wide & produces yellow flowers. It sheds bark in large flakes, leaving a patchy grey & white effect on the trunk. It’s described as having invasive roots. The WA Water Corporation recommends planting no less that 6-metres from a sewerage pipe. The Australian website ‘Save Our Waterways Now’ says of the Leopard tree, “This is a weed to be expected” because it grows where the seeds land. In November 2008, Brisbane City Council said, “Leopard trees will no longer be planted on Brisbane footpaths as the city takes stock of dangerous & nuisance trees ….” See – http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/death-knell-for-dangerous-brisbane-trees-20091108-i3d7.html
As the petitioners do not like flower, leaf & seed litter & one resident thinks the tree roots may be damaging their property, I suspect the choices for replacement trees will also cause them concern.
I am not a subscriber to planting only native trees, as I believe that many non-natives can be very useful to wildlife & I actually like the trees suggested. However, in this case none of the replacement trees offer any value to Australian wildlife that I am aware of. On 15th November 2011 Council approved its Biodiversity Strategy. 3 weeks later they are recommending that Councillors vote to remove a whole street of trees of high habitat value & replace with street trees of no habitat value whatsoever.
We spoke to 2 residents. One appeared angry with me taking photos of the trees & shouted, “I love these trees.” The other had no notice of a push to have the trees removed. The first thing they said was, “But the Cotton Harlequins live in them.” They were very distressed & said they would write to Council.
The residents who have put in the petition know, but the remaining residents in the street do not seem to know & I think this is important.
Council should be sending a letter to every household in Harrow Road informing of the petition & hold a public meeting at a good time on the weekend to speak to the residents about this. Leaf, flower & seed debris & Cotton Harlequin Bugs are not issues of concern to every Harrow Road resident.
To my mind there is already a problem with Marrickville Council’s processes in that the removal of so many street trees is decided without community consultation. To remove the trees & then give the community a choice from 5 tree species isn’t real community consultation. It’s the leftovers. Harrow Road is a long road with many more than 27 residents. They deserve a say.
Lastly, 1 tree has a large drill hole at the base of its trunk & appears to have been poisoned & 2 other trees next to it also show multiple dead branches at the base & on the trunk & perhaps this is also a sign of poisoning.
I have made a short video of the trees here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhP1AgavpjA
It’s been a while since I’ve had the space to write about this amazing project that would have just started in Southern Queesnsland.
The Condamine Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation plans to create a Celtic ‘eternity knot’ symbol out of trees, calling it Treehenge.
More than 85,000 trees will be planted in the design that will cover an area of around 6 football fields wide by 15 football fields long at the head of the Condamine River. This area is called the Condamine River Basin & the Condamine Alliance expects that the eternity knot will be visible from the International Space Station.
The Condamine River flows to Adelaide & it is hoped that many more trees will be planted the length of the river to improve the land of one of Australia’s major food bowls, the Darling Downs. The Condamine Alliance also intend to improve biodiversity by providing lost habitat for native wildlife.
“The trees planted will repair eighty hectares of eroded land, help improve air & water quality & ultimately encourage the return of native animals such as koalas, wallabies, echidna, black snakes & blue tongues.”
What an amazing project & such a bonus for the environment. Everyone can be a part of this project by donating a tree. They are doing something which I love; that is giving people the opportunity to have a tree planted to commemorate an important occasion – weddings, christenings, milestones & deaths, even a tree for your pet. Trees are expected to live for more than-30 years. You can find Treehenge here – http://treehenge.com.au/