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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
Yesterday, 17th October 2011, the General Manager of Newcastle City Council called a meeting with the Newcastle Councillors & did a very good thing. He went against the last effective resolution by the Councillors – to have the 14 Laman Street Figs removed. The General Manager did this because the community had been very actively calling for an independent assessment of the safety of the Fig trees because they did not trust their Council any longer, especially after one Councillor said that an independent assessment has the potential to ruin some “reputations” at Council. Nor did they believe that 7 Councillors should have the right to remove trees that the community believe are safe, important for wildlife & one of the few beautiful things left in Newcastle. The constant call has always been for the Councillors to listen to the people, a job they were put there to do.
On Friday 8th October 2011, dubbed ‘Newcastle’s Day of Destruction,’ the tree loppers arrived & the community came out in force to stop the trees from being chopped down. They were successful with only 3 branches removed from 1 tree before the end of the day. Some in the community suffered injuries & 7 were arrested.
Since 8th October 2011, the community has been at Civic Park (which is attached to Laman Street) before dawn every day, maintaining a vigil to ensure the trees are not worked on. Large groups were prepared to come at a moment’s notice which they proved on 3 occasions; when Linda Burney NSW Deputy Leader of the Opposition & Shadow Minister for Planning Infrastructure & Heritage, visited last Sunday & for the two Council Meetings when hundreds of people came to stand on the Town Hall steps & protest the decision to remove their trees. I was told that around 700 people came for yesterday’s Council Meeting. These are noisy affairs as passing traffic also participates by honking their car horns in support. I heard this myself with a phone call where the caller said, “listen to this.”
Here is the General Manager’s media statement of 17th October 2011 – “I wish to emphasise that my first priority is the safety & wellbeing of staff, Councillors, contractors & members of the public. At this time I do not believe it is practical to continue work to remove & replace the 14 Laman Street Hills Figs. This afternoon I met with the Lord Mayor & eight Councillors outlining my concerns regarding the safety & wellbeing of staff, Councillors, contractors & members of the public. I indicated that for these reasons I have decided to delay work to continue to remove the trees. I also outlined a proposal to move forward & ensure a safe environment for any future action in relation to the trees. I have tonight forwarded a draft agreement for an expert evaluation to Save Our Figs to consider. I intend to meet with Save Our Figs tomorrow morning to further discuss the proposal. No work to remove the trees will occur until Save Our Figs has had the opportunity to consider & comment upon the proposal. I will not make any further comment to media until after the meeting with Save Our Figs.” Needless to say there was a very happy section of the Newcastle community last night.
Today it was reported in the Newcastle Herald that at least 6 Councillors (the one’s that voted for the trees to be removed) are “livid that a decision of the elected body has been effectively overturned,” & the General Manager “now faces calls to resign from angry councilors,” while another Councillor wants “Local Government Minister Don Page to launch an investigation into the council.”
The community has been repeatedly saying that the Councillors were elected to listen & represent the people, not work against them, even while the community was gathering in great numbers to save these trees. One Councillor has called the community “disobedient.” This begs the question, what are the community to do when their submissions, letters, pleas, videos, songs, 69 nightly vigils, marches, posters, photos & a petition that is around 12,000 signatures & growing is not working? Go home & watch TV?
Community group Save Our Figs, who have always advocated peaceful protest, will work with Newcastle Council to choose an independent assessor & move this issue onward. Hopefully, the independent assessment decides that the trees are safe. After all, they keep standing up during the many serious storms that have hit Newcastle over the last few years. http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/gm-chops-council-over-fig-fiasco/2326651.aspx?storypage=0
Save Our Figs - http://saveourfigs.wordpress.com/
This is a beautiful video showing some of the community protesters who have been labeled ‘ratbags & loonies.’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaT0_JIsWQ4
1. Dr Maxine Cooper, the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability & the Environment has released a report recommending that the Urban Forest Renewal Program be tossed out & instead create a new position of Tree Curator to engage with Canberra residents about public trees. She also recommends an extra $4 million a year ongoing to look after the 730,000 trees in the ACT. “So it’s like our health, if you look after yourself better & give attention to health, there’s less need for medicine. The same for trees. If you look after trees they actually will last longer.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/30/3178188.htm
2. Mosman Council has a webpage called ‘Big Ideas for Mosman.’ One of the ideas is to plant fruit trees in public places. This is an initiative I see happening a lot overseas. Public fruit trees are also being planted as part of Sydney City Council’s Sustainable Streets project.
3. Still with Mosman Council, Brush Turkey chicks have been sighted at Reid Park & Millet Road. The birds have been recorded in these areas since 2009, but large numbers have not been seen since the Depression when hungry people ate them. Brush Turkeys are protected under the National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974. Male Brush Turkeys continually rake an enormous mound of leaves to keep their eggs at the perfect temperature. http://www.mosman.nsw.gov.au/news/2011/03/28/next-generation-brush-turkeys?utm_source=council-website&utm_medium=share-buttons&utm_campaign=social-media
4. Myrtle Rust, a serious fungal disease of plants, has been confirmed in world heritage listed Lamington National Park. Myrtle Rust affects Eucalypts, Bottle brush & Tea tree as well as other Australian native plants. It can have a devastating affect in forests – “deformation of leaves, heavy defoliation of branches, dieback, stunted growth & plant death.” It spreads rapidly & procedures have been put in place to try to prevent this from happening. http://www.mysunshinecoast.com.au/articles/article-display/national-parks-on-alert-after-myrtle-rust-detection,20931
On 1st March 2011 Bio Security announced that Myrtle Rust had been found at a Cairns nursery making this the farthest north detection of the fungus. Associate Professor Andres Drenth, a plant pathologist at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences said, “It’s likely to have a substantial long-term impact. It will affect reproductive rates for infected eucalypts. In the next generation, those resistant species will become more dominant & slowly over time you will get a change of species. This will also affect the animals that are dependent on these species.” http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/03/01/3151595.htm
5. Hills Shire Council opened their main street project this week. Unveiled were new street trees & shrubs, new lighting & paving, outdoor-dining spaces & wombat crossings. Wombat Crossings! How fantastic to have wild wombats in Sydney. http://hills-shire-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/castle-hills-main-street-to-open-tonight/
6. An undefined number of Poplar trees were chopped down by Meriton at a Warriewood Valley development site. Meriton said the tree removal complied with their DA approved by the Planning Assessment Commission & they will replace the trees with native plants. Residents are angry about the tree-clearing saying they bought their properties because of the green leafy view. Now they will be looking onto & into units. Poplars are big dramatic broad-leafed trees with lime green leaves. They are popular with birds & make the most terrific sound when the wind blows through the leaves. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/not-a-poplar-move-at-all/
7. Currawong, a holiday park opposite Palm Beach in Pittwater has been purchased for $12.2 million by the NSW state government to be made into a new state park. This has been a long battle to keep this iconic park in the ownership of the people. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/currawong-to-become-state-park/
8. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has ordered the all cows out of Alpine National Park in Victoria by 8th April 2011. The Victorian government put the cows into the national park in January 2011 as “part of a scientific research.” An Environmental Assessment of the impact of cattle grazing in the park had not been performed. When the paperwork was given to the Minister mid-March he said, “The information that has eventually come from the Victorian government is a joke. For something that is meant to be a university research project, we’re provided with documentation that wouldn’t pass as high school science homework.” http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/government-orders-cows-out-of-victorias-alpine-park/story-e6frf7kf-1226024189122
9. “Gloves are off” regarding community opposition to the Gunns Ltd pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley. Over 1,000 people protested at what will likely be the first of many demonstrations since the Federal government approved the $2.5 billion pulp mill. It’s hard for people to say the protests are just the work of green-left radicals when universally loved ex-Gardening Australia host Peter Cundall was one of the main speakers. I.50-minute ABC News video -http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2011/03/20/3168808.htm
10. Staying in Tasmania – whether you like or dislike Senator Bob Brown, his donation of his Liffey Valley bushland home ‘Oura Oura’ in Northern Tasmania to Bush Heritage Australia is a generous act indeed. The 14-hectare parcel of land is environmentally significant & provides habitat to numerous threatened species such as ‘the tasmanian devil, the spotted-tail quoll, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle & the grey goshawk.’ The Liffey River flows through the land. Senator Brown founded Bush Heritage in 1991. http://www.bushheritage.org.au/oura-oura-reserve-handover.html plus a 1.02-minute video showing footage of ‘Oura Oura’ land.
1. In a shocking case of environmental vandalism, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works chopped down around 250 100-year-old Oak & Sycamore trees across an 11-acre site called the Santa Anita Wash Oak Grove. The trees were razed so they can dump 500,000 cubic yards of silt that they intend to dredge from a nearby reservoir. The community vehemently opposed the destruction of the Santa Anita Wash Oak Grove, but the destruction went ahead as planned & this in a state that prides itself on it’s climate change initiatives. I would have thought that the silt could have been transported to another place to be used rather than destroy a 100-year plus habitat. To see the Santa Anita Wash Oak Grove for yourself, here is a 3.42min YouTube video -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKJ2gEPBEts&feature=player_embedded#! & article - http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-trees-protest-20110113,0,3043421.story
2. We have always known it & now Australian research by Professor Burchett of the University of Technology Sydney has proven it …. pot plants relieve workplace stress. “We found that plants had a very strong wellbeing effect. It was a reduction of a whole lot of negative feelings: anxiety, anger, depression, confusion, fatigue & stress.” Trees are just bigger plants & have much the same benefits. http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/3460853
3. In a bold move by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, 3.5 acres of carpark will be torn up to create an urban wilderness experience & exhibit. What they intend to create by July 2011 is fabulous. I hope this approach becomes commonplace. http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/outdoor-activities/blogs/museum-unpaves-parking-lot-to-create-urban-wilderness
4. Glenn Ridge in New Jersey US has established a new Shade Tree Commission that will oversee the health & well-being of publicly-owned shade trees. I have not heard of this type of body before. The Shade Tree Commission will ensue that the care of public trees is open & transparent & will work with the community via outreach & public forums. http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/111579264_Keep_us_in_the_shade___and_the_sun.html
5. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are in coal tar which is used to seal roads & carparks. Heavy pollution of US streams, ponds & lakes has been tracked to the use of PAH. Everything we use ends up in our riverways or oceans eventually. It’s time we stopped opting for the quick solution & chose more natural non-polluting products. They are available. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19829-organic-pollutants-tracked-down-to-us-parking-lots.html
6. Research by scientists at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research found that deciduous trees absorb about 1/3 more of oxygenated volatile organic compounds & at a faster rate than expected, up to 4 times faster. Oxygenated volatile organic compounds are particularly bad for human health. This is why as many trees as possible need to be planted along our main roads & thoroughfares. http://greenopolis.com/goblog/joe-laur/trees-absorb-more-pollution-previously-thought
7. Scientists from the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow & Landscape in Zurich published research that examined “nearly 9,000 pieces of wood, mostly collected over the past 30 years by archaeologists who use tree rings to establish the age of ancient sites or structures, a technique known as dendrochronology. The result was a continuous – & precisely dated – record of weather in France & Germany going back 2,500 years. The study also showed that climate & catastrophe often line up.” http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/01/fall-of-rome-recorded-in-trees.html?rss=1
8. Green building legislation & initiatives are becoming commonplace in the US with 12 federal agencies & 33 states implementing them despite the recession. In 2008, 156 Councils nationwide had green legislation. By September 2010, 384 Councils have jumped on board. I like this as Australia often follows the US. http://earthandindustry.com/2010/11/despite-recession-u-s-green-building-sector-soars/
9. ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company says they expect CO2 emissions to rise
by nearly 25% in the next 20 years, “in effect dismissing hopes that runaway climate change can be arrested & massive loss of life prevented. According to the UK Met Office, if emissions rises can be stopped by 2020 & then be made to reduce by 1-2% a year, the planet could be expected to warm 2.1C to 3.7 C this century, with the rise continuing even higher after 2100.” The Australian Bureau of Metrology said that ocean temperatures around Australia have already warmed by 1.5 degrees. A warmer ocean means greater evaporation, which leads to higher rainfall. This lesson came via ABC TV on the day of the great flood that hit Brisbane & SE Queensland this past week. I think this is a very important article. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/19/exxonmobil-carbon-emissions-rise?CMP=twt_gu
10. Every year the city of Paris has 95 collection points across the city where its citizens can take their unwanted live Christmas tree which are mulched to be used in the city’s parks & gardens. “From 15,000 trees recycled in 2007-2008, the number grew to 27,150 in 2009-2010.” Does Marrickville Council have a collection for Christmas trees? If not, it would be easy enough to copy this initiative wouldn’t it? http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/12/old-christmas-trees-help-other-trees-grow-paris.php
11. Sudden tree death is killing the older trees in the UK. “Already 4 million trees have been felled or marked for destruction.” This is a tragedy. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/8247580/Sudden-death-for-thousands-of-trees.html
12. Friends of the Trees, a volunteer group in Portand have just finished planting their 400,000 tree since the group started 21-years ago. My deepest respect goes to them. http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/01/friends_of_trees_plants_its_40.html
13. In other good news, the Philippines have used Tree Surgeons to successfully heal sick
trees. The emphasis is mine. “Researchers claimed 24 narra trees aged 68 to 73years old were treated after they were on the verge of dying considering that they were described to be landmarks when the construction of the Binga power plant & other facilities commenced in the early 1960s. Seven trees had major treatments using steel bars as mechanical support during the tree surgery while the seventeen others underwent semi-major surgery. Experts claimed tree surgery is the practice of repairing sick & damaged trees to subsequently restore its physical appearance. It is done by removing the injured or deceased parts & treating the same with antiseptics & healing aids & filling the cavities with special materials & cement to fix the surface.” Why does this not happen any more? Or if it does, why do we not hear about it? I know some specialist Arborists look after veteran trees or move trees & care for them like the IKEA Fig, but this kind of work used to be done routinely on suburban trees. Now it seems like if a limb is sick, the whole tree has to come down. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/292102/tree-surgeries-save-benguets-sick-narra
The Marrickville Council Tree Strategy Issues Paper was up for voting last night & what a doozey of a meeting it turned out to be. It’s clear there are very strong & opposing views about public trees & the community cannot afford to be uninvolved when our turn comes to contribute.
Some good news before I report on this. Council unanimously & with much enthusiasm voted in favour of the creation of a new community garden in Denison Street Dulwich Hill. 3 residents spoke in favour of setting up a community garden citing the many benefits it will provide to the community. Council then went on to say that any resident can apply to have a community garden set up in any council owned disused space or reserve in the municipality. There is mention of this on council’s web-site.
Now back to the Trees Strategy Issues Paper (TSIP). 3 residents addressed the meeting. While each speech addressed different issues, all of us were against the recommendation to remove 1,000 trees per year for the next 5 years. Although the TSIP says Council intends to plant replacement trees, their own report states a significant percentage of new tree plantings fail. Since 1972 Marrickville LGA has planted approximately 42,500 street trees. Today we have 20,000 street trees. The numbers speak for themselves.
Other points raised that I recall were:
- Essential that the councillors themselves be knowledgeable about the value & benefits of public trees & tree management before voting to remove 59% of trees within Marrickville LGA.
- The need for education, communication & consultation with the community about trees.
- Climate change, the heat island effect, the benefits of trees, the value of mature trees, strategies to look after trees to retain them, history & continuity that mature trees bring, the streetscape & character of Marrickville LGA, supporting increasing the tree canopy, better choice & placement of street trees & the need to care for this significant asset.
- The recommendation not to establish a Significant Tree Register was also very disappointing, as was the lack of a Tree Inventory. It is essential the Council knew what its only appreciating asset was & an inventory would serve to keep a record of our history even if trees were removed.
- The good points were acknowledged as was the work staff had done to prepare the TSIP.
With 3 minutes & a maximum of 6, all 3 of us felt pressed to cover everything needed in this time-frame. You should try it at least once in your life. Speaking at Council is much harder than I expected it to be. You can read my speech here – Speech-MC-9_2_10
Clr Thanos seemed to take affront at the residents’ speeches saying that he was proud of Marrickville, proud of the tree planting that has happened, speaking at length about how we had misunderstood the TSIP. Well, all 3 of us read it, the Greens understood the same message, as did Labor’s Clr O’Sullivan. He also said we were using the issue of trees to pursue our own agenda. For me this was true. I am trying to save public trees inappropriately earmarked for removal, yet somehow he made my motivation sound like I was scum & he did this from the safety of ‘privilege.’
Clr Thanos needs to understand it is poor form to criticise residents after they have addressed Council suggesting they have no pride in their community & somehow want to take it down.
I will speak for myself, but I know the other speakers were taken aback with his comments. I also know they care deeply about this issue & have spent a great deal of their leisure time over the years working to help improve this locality.
Deciding to follow what is happening at Council, find documents on Council’s packed web-site, download documents that are often large, read & analyse them, devote time to preparing a speech, spending the evening at Council, the nerves associated with this & putting opinions out in the public arena, are not small things. Public speaking is classified as the number 1 biggest fear people have, so I ask, why would we do all these things if we didn’t have pride in our LGA & if we weren’t trying to help bring improvements for the community?
Clr Thanos debated & debated. Clr O’Sullivan added some valid points in an amendment. She spoke of how she finds herself clinging to shade when she walks in her area because of the heat island effect. She also spoke about how climate change has become a significant issue & that there have been advancements in tree care & approaches to public trees since this report was last submitted in 2007. She cited other Councils & suggested that experts be brought in to educate about current trends.
Clr Hanna reasonably suggested that residents be consulted about what tree species to plant outside their houses & said if they had a choice in the matter they would more likely care for the tree.
The Greens spoke about their tree policy, done with consultation with some members of the community, but this was lost in the ensuing melee, which was again disappointing. Clr Peters reminded us that it has been 17 years since Council has reviewed its Tree Policy saying this current TSIP was not productive. Clr Olive & other members of the Greens tried many times to discuss certain points of the TSIP, but this was stopped by Clr Thanos with Clr Tsardoulias in the Chair ordering the Greens to stop for points of order.
The Greens suggested their amendment & Clr O’Sullivan’s amendment were really saying the same thing. Eventually, this was passed. 1,000 trees get to live for another 6 months while a working party of councillors work on this TSIP.
It was unpleasant to be in the Gallery due to obstructionism from Clr Thanos & Clr Tsardoulias. I gather this is accepted as the culture of this kind of workplace. Just last week a Strathfield Council made the news due to a Councillor arguing with residents in the Gallery. Eventually, this argument was continued out in the street. To read the Inner West Courier article – http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/strathfield-council-in-chaos/
There is quite a bit of tree/nature news happening now. The Inner West Courier reported that 3 residents of High Street Strathfield set up camp on the nature strip to peacefully protest Strathfield Council’s order for the nature strip to be destroyed for a temporary pedestrian crossing. The residents’ protest was successful in that the work has been postponed. You can read the article by clicking on the following link – http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-protest-saves-path/
The Cumberland Courier wrote an article this week saying Baulkham Hills residents are furious at Integral Energy for the way their contractors pruned street trees recently.
The local politician, Castle Hill State Liberal MP Michael Richardson has taken a stand calling on the State Government to step in to stop the “butchering.” Reading this made me hoot with joy. Finally, a politician has stepped up & challenged the ‘never to be questioned’ power of these companies.
Intergal Energy’s letter in reply to Mr Richardson said “While trimming can look severe at first, trees regrow at a normal rate & training them away from power-lines avoids the need to remove them entirely in the future.” I dispute this having witnessed energy Australia contractors pruning the thin hanging branches of Bottlebrush trees closer to the ground than the wires. It was entirely unnecessary.
In my opinion they ruined the street trees in my area in 2000 & came & did a much harder prune late 2009. Many of the trees are hardly worth keeping after this last visit. Marrickville Council knows this because they have removed a whole street of trees after they have been pruned for power-lines. It’s a vicious cycle & one I would like to see stopped. See the Shame Page 1 & 2 on this site for examples.
For the record, I know that trees need to be pruned to prevent blackouts/fire caused by damage to the cables by branches moving in the wind during storms. However, I strongly believe the energy companies can do much better with their pruning & I am not alone in this.
They can also make AB Cabling cheaper so the councils can afford to use it. In the long run, it will save significant amounts of money for the energy companies who must pay out millions each year to pay contractors to prune street trees.
You can read the full article by clicking on the following link – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-fury-at-tree-butchering-in-hills/
In America they are having a similar argument about their energy supplier ComEd’s treatment of street & public trees. It is of such concern to the community that ways to manage the problem is the subject of debate in a public forum between 4 State Senators who are candidates for the DuPage County Board Chairman’s seat, a necessary step before going to State Primary elections. Serious stuff. All 4 senators want state legislation to bring in measures of control.
“The current state statute is insufficient to deal with this perpetual problem,” Olson (one of the State Senators) said. “I have joined the chairman of the (county board’s) environmental committee in proposing & supporting legislation that would require ComEd to replace high-growing trees they cut down or disfigure under their transmission lines with lower-growing native species.”
Senator Cronin said, “Utilities are subject to specific tree-care standards & the county must ensure that ComEd is meeting those expectations.”
Senator Pankau wants to initiate a program requiring contractors to undergo certified training by the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, which I guess is the equivalent of our Botanical gardens.
I find it astounding that American’s love their public trees so much, they become a voting issue & politicians have to stand up for what they believe about trees in a public forum & that sufficient numbers of people will attend.
You can read the full article at the following link – http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=349705
There is much more tree news. To keep this post to a decent size I will post the rest soon.