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You may have seen on the TV news last Friday that Railcorp removed 3 100-year-old heritage Fig trees on Wahroonga Railway Station. 2 more will come down in October 2010. Railcorp says:
RailCorp will be replacing the fig trees at Wahroonga Station to resurface the platform & prevent further structural damage. The roots of the trees are threatening the structural integrity of the platform & if left in place will continue to damage the heritage-listed station building, damage sewage systems & prevent future improvements to station facilities. The Heritage Council of NSW independently came to the same conclusion, & placed upon RailCorp a number of conditions for the removal of the trees. The issue has existed for two decades & can no longer be avoided.
The community is mighty upset about the trees removal saying there were many alternatives to removal. Reading all the documents & news articles, it is clear the trees were removed because their surface roots made the platform surface bumpy & created a trip-hazzard. However, the trees are located at the far ends of the station & those who walked there have known about the state of the station surface for 20 years. I was not able to find any information about complaints from the community about the tree roots & the station surface.
Railcorp argued about 2 other things which lead to the removal of these trees: the cost of pruning these trees & that in the past they caused damage to old clay sewerage pipes. They fear the trees will invade the pipes again, but my plumber says, “This is the beauty of plastic pipes, tree roots can’t invade them.”
Railcorp intend to replace these trees with 6 Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus) & jazz up the station by planting 120 flax lily (Dianella caerulea “Breeze”) as a ground cover. It should look nice when completed, but I doubt they will look as nice as those old majestic trees.
I think most of the train stations I have seen in Sydney look shocking. Their gardens are ugly & the emphasis is on bitumen & low hedges. I would guess this is to be able to have a clear view of the platform for commuter safety & to discourage bad behaviour. Still, I can see no reason why much of the space toward the end of railway stations cannot be planted a little more creatively.
Railcorp’s intention to plant 120 flax lilies proves they can do something which has the potential to be quite stunning. By making this station pretty, they hope to improve public relations.
Not only do I wish Railcorp would landscape the railway stations in a better way, (for example, they don’t need to stick with using the garden beds which were made 100 years ago as they are poky little plots often in odd places), I also wish they would plant along the railway line on both sides & in barren spaces between the lines. Grevillea are perfect for the smaller areas. In other areas, taller trees can be planted.
The RTA plants trees along major highways. There is no reason why Railcorp can’t do the same on their land along railway lines. Not only would it help green ugly areas, it would help minimize noise from passing trains & prevent areas looking weedy & filled with garbage. Just an idea.
To say it can’t be done because there may be a need for pruning will not work for me as I’ve seen numerous empty sites located quite a way from the train lines. I just think it’s always been ugly along railway lines & no-one except Wendy Whiteley has ever challenged the status quo. Time for a change even if only to help mitigate or manage climate change.
I had not heard of this issue until last week & am sad these trees have been removed. I know the feeling of anger & frustration felt by the community where it doesn’t make sense to remove such beautiful trees. My respect also to the woman who climbed one of the trees for a while to protest about them being chopped down.
On a positive note, I am impressed at the news coverage by both TV & newspapers about this issue. The Sydney Morning Herald had an article yesterday where they said:
Among those campaigning for the trees’ preservation was NSW Opposition Leader & state member for the area Barry O’Farrell. But NSW Premier Kristina (Keneally) supported their removal, claiming the damage caused by the roots was a hazard for people pushing prams & those in wheelchairs.
The same argument was used for Orphan Creek in Forest Lodge in 2009 to justify removing all the trees for a very wide cement path, even though those who used wheelchairs & mum’s with prams came out & said not to do it. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/unkindest-cut-for-historic-north-shore-fig-trees-20100612-y4jr.html
In another article from the North Shore Times 9th June 2010, an Arborist suggested the following to retain the trees:
To encourage the roots to grow deeper, a porous asphalt system available since the late 1990s could be used. Vertical barriers could also be installed to deflect root growth away from structural elements. “In this instance, a barrier maintained flush with the asphalt pavement could be effective in preventing surface root growth & should be trialed,” he advised. The report suggested tie rods could be used to improve the structural integrity of platform walls with minimal damage to the trees. The alternative – finding a replacement planting – would be problematic, as few species would tolerate the growing conditions. “The performance of the subject trees under these conditions for nearly 100 years is remarkable,” the report said. http://north-shore-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/railcorp-doesn-t-give-a-fig/
All up there have been 14 articles about this issue in the main papers over the last week or so. Does this mean the community & the media are starting to care about keeping trees? I certainly hope so.
I must say I am impressed with how much information about this issue is provided on Railcorp’s web-site. It is well worth a look. http://www.railcorp.info/community/wahroonga_station It was also interesting to read that Railcorp said the trees were only “part way through their growing cycle” at 100 years old. Makes me wonder at the use of the word ‘senescent’ when I read it in Marrickville Council documents.
So, goodbye to another group of Sydney’s beautiful old trees. Perhaps in a couple of decades there won’t be any left.
I recently came across a video segment from the program Stateline on ABC from March 2010 where they discussed the dollar value of trees. This video discusses the following & more:
- The loss of Adelaide’s street & park trees for lack of water
- Melbourne has decided to water their street & park trees
- A real estate agent talking about how both street trees & trees on the property increase the value of the property
- How much trees are actually worth
- What it will be like to live in an area that has few or no trees
- Councils used to irrigate street trees
- Residents used to give trees both on their property & in front of their property regular watering
- The cost of watering trees to save their life far outweighs the cost of losing a tree through lack of water
- How the fact that a tree is not a native somehow gives permission for it to be cut down
- Trees can be worth as much as $100,000
- Trees are assets & investments which appreciate over time
In Melbourne, they are talking about how their 100-year-old trees are “an extremely valuable asset” while Marrickville Council talks about our older trees as “senescent” & past their time. You may remember earlier this year Marrickville Council put up a plan before the Councillors to remove many of the old trees over the next 5 years. The designated amount was 1,000 trees to be removed per year for 5 years targeting senescent trees. Thankfully the Councillors did not accept this Tree Strategy Issues Paper, but it was a close call & a revised Paper will be returning for consideration soon.
This video is 7 minutes duration. I whole-heartedly recommend watching it. If you do, check out the hole in one of the larger trees right at the end. I have seen a
tree like that closer to home along the beachfront at Brighton-le-Sands. A few of the tall pines had substantial holes in their trunks. Rather than chopping them down, Rockdale Council had the rot treated & the hole cemented allowing the tree to remain stable & continue to live for the benefit of the community. I would imagine those trees are heritage listed.
When I was a child, it was quite common for a Tree Surgeon (as Arborists were called then), to be employed to save trees on private property. I remember watching them scrapping out the hole, using chemicals to stop the disease & filling the hole with cement, just like a dentist fills dental caries. I saw trees bolted together if they had a split in their trunk & other such things that seem to be out of vogue today. Nowadays, the simplest intervention seems to be to cut the tree down saying “everything has to die.” True, but many tree species live far longer than what we are led to believe. Melbourne is proof of this.
As we have been in a long & protracted drought that is not over yet, trees dying from lack of water is going to become a significant issue, especially if the culture changes & trees are truly recognised as significant green assets. We may yet return to the days where Councils water the public trees & property owners take care of the trees on their property as well as the tree out front. I have my fingers
crossed. Already around the municipality there are trees dying. Some of them were stunners that now stand brown & present a danger of falling, damaging property & perhaps a risk to life. I find it sad as many of these tree deaths could have been averted if they had been watered.
Another article in the same vein that may be of interest says Adelaide City Council is considering putting a dollar value on its trees following in the footsteps of Melbourne. This may lead to developers being required to compensate for the trees they say they need to chop down by planting trees to that dollar value. So if trees are valued at $100,000, they will be required to plant trees to that value. I’m hoping it may bring business to those tree companies who are skilled at large tree relocation. Relocation costs may actually be cheaper than paying for the trees that would be lost if chopped down.
The Stateline video & a transcript of the main points can be accessed by clicking on the following link- http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/03/26/2857693.htm
Does anyone know what has happened to the 2 or 3 Hills Figs on the new IKEA site Princes Highway Tempe? Last time I drove past, the Hills Figs were gone & the Morton Bay Fig was standing alone with all the ground surrounding the edge of its canopy excavated. Marrickville Heritage Society told me IKEA said they would be relocating this tree, but they don’t know what has happened with the other trees.
These trees are not ordinary. As far as I know they are in the small group of the oldest remaining trees in Marrickville LGA. I hope the others are okay.
I will write to Marrickville Council to see if they are aware of what is/has happened to these trees & what the plans for them are.
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
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
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/
Last Friday, I was called to Excelsior Parade Marrickville, home of ‘The Pride of Excelsior.’ (see Shame Page) “Energy Australia are pruning the trees.” I arrived just as they were finishing. Whether due to recent bad publicity plaguing the energy companies or just a good crew of contractors, they had done a good job.
I always give credit where when it’s due. This is one such occasion. I have been worried about these trees knowing that Energy Australia were due. This time there were only a few branches on the road & they had taken care not to over prune.
Interestingly, a small crowd had gathered to assess the work, indicating that others hold these trees in high esteem as well.
The trees are Brush Box, large & old, just the type that Council have recommended to be chopped down & replaced in their Tree Strategies Issues Paper (see last post). No one knows when these trees were planted, but the housing was built in 1915. Older residents said the trees went in around that time. They form a canopy over the street & support a myriad of wildlife. Everyone who comes to this street mentions the beauty of these trees. Even the real estate agents mention them in their advertising when a house is up for sale & I am sure the house prices reflect their presence.
A Fire-Wheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus, Wheel of Fire, White Beefwood, White Oak for those of you who like botanical names) had to be topped for the cables. This native species of tree can grow to 40m, but more commonly to 15m in cultivation. Question is, why was this tree planted under electricity wires around 5 years ago? It will continue to grow & by the time Energy Australia return, the trunk will have grown taller. Routine pruning will then turn this tree into a flat umbrella & Council will probably chop it down. In Los Angles, Fire-Wheels are classified as heritage trees & they are described as a ‘fragile tree.’ So, well done Energy Australia. Thank you for leaving the trees looking beautiful. I am sure the community will be happy you did.
Not so for the residents of Valentine Avenue Blacktown & Browning Crescent Lalor Park, who complained about the pruning practices of Integral Energy contractors recently. (see my posts More butchering of street trees & Bakers dozen or it dozen matter). Curious to see just how bad the damage was & to compare with what has happened in Marrickville LGA, we took a trip there last weekend to see the trees. What a shocker! They were butchered & the residents were entitled to complain.
The visit was worthwhile on a number of fronts. I now know that Blacktown Council took action to prevent savage over-pruning, whereas in cases of severe over pruning in Marrickville LGA no action seems to have been taken. Marrickville Council also can intervene in the future, rather than sit back & allow our assets to be destroyed.
I haven’t been on the M4 for a while. After leaving the eyesore of Parramatta Road, which seriously needs the intervention of multiple councils, we reached the expressway. This has become a green corridor as the trees planted for the Olympics have grown & now present a tall, lush, green screen. It is quite an achievement to make a highway look nice, but they have done it.
I also discovered that Blacktown, Seven Hills & Lalor Park are as green as Eastwood. There are tall trees everywhere, many of them Eucalypts & it is impossible to count the trees on the horizon. I think Blacktown Council has done well regarding street trees. I found other articles about the recent pruning of street trees & in other locations the Blacktown area. From the Blacktown Sun - http://www.blacktownsun.com.au/news/local/news/general/pruning-vandalism/1729453.aspx & another from the Blacktown Advocate – http://blacktown-advocate.whereilive.com.au/your-news/story/why-is-energy-australia-mutilating-blacktowns-trees/ & from the Cumberland Courier – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/your-news/comments/why-is-energy-australia-mutilating-blacktowns-trees/
During my research I was stunned to read that Blacktown City Council gives away 70,000 trees every year free to residents as part of the Visionary Greening Of Blacktown Program. It’s working. Then I came across “more than 7,000 native trees have been planted in Fairfield as part of Blacktown City Council Council’s Regenesis Project.” (Aug & Sept 09) http://www.streetcorner.com.au/news/showPost.cfm?bid=11987&mycomm=WC A look at Blacktown Council’s web-site revealed more. Over 500 residents & businesses people helped plant 23,370 native trees, shrubs & grasses over 8 month period ending June 09. http://www.blacktown.nsw.gov.au/news-and-events/news-releases/wow-23370-trees-planted-since-october.cfm
Even the Sikh Centre, a massive temple, has been given an Environment Grant ($4,200) to rejuvenate the local streetscape, as this is a new housing development with building still under way.
Blacktown City Council has done a Tree Inventory & they also have a Significant Tree Register. Our Council has neither & at present have no intention to do so.
I’m going to stop now because I sound like I have set up the Blacktown City Council Fan Club. http://www.bccfanclub.org.au for your free t-shirt! (NOTE: no such web-site) This research started because I wanted to know why our Council ignores what happens to our street trees & Blacktown Council doesn’t. Now I can see why. It’s also good to know what other Council’s are doing about street trees & over-all greening of their municipality so we know what is a reasonable expectation.
Back to the Brush Box trees on Excelsior Parade. These trees are also at risk of being damaged by passing trucks. Residents in the area are campaigning on a number of issues & one of their concerns is that long semi-trailers on Excelsior Parade will destroy the trees. Considering the damage heavy vehicles have caused to trees in the nearby Carrington Road (see post -http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/5th-january-2010-saved-by-the-land-environment-court-maimed-by-trucks/) I think their concerns are justified. To view their concerns go to the Council Gripe web-site at – http://councilgripe.com/content/marrickville-council-police-inaction-re-traffic-safety-warren-road-marrickville