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I was sent photos of a tree that had been vandalised in Victoria & later, a sign attached to the tree by Latrobe City Council. The sign reads –
“This tree has been severely vandalized. Trees are significant & valuable assets & belong to the whole community. Every incident of tree vandalism is a direct cost to ratepayers.” It then invites people who may have information to contact the Council.
I love this sign, especially the acknowledgement that public trees belong to the whole community, not just to the person whose house the tree is outside of or the street it is growing in. I think an enormous percentage of the community incorrectly think that the street tree outside is theirs to do what they like with.
I visited the website of Latrobe City Council & found that they also write up incidents of tree vandalism. Here is one from October 2012. The use of ‘bold’ is my emphasis.
“Trees replaced in Church Street, Morwell.
Latrobe City Council’s manager infrastructure operations, Jody O’Kane, said that the trees were damaged late last week.
“The young trees were broken off in a deliberate attack. Officers from the depot replaced the vandalised trees with new trees & the streetscape looks as it should again.
“We appreciate residents reporting incidents of vandalism of Council assets.
Pride in the community is important & the vast majority of citizens respect their environment & feel aggrieved when damage is deliberately inflicted.
We do respond to reports of vandalism in as short a time frame as possible & will continue to maintain the street trees in our community,” Mr O’Kane concluded.”
Latrobe City Council’s approach is one that educates the community that tree vandalism is not acceptable & also is about changing the culture to one that respects trees. If any Council ignores the vandalism incident & rewards by removing the tree, then others in the community know that this is how they can have a street tree removed too.
I’m posting about this because it is the worst example of tree vandalism I have personally seen & because of the great actions by Canterbury Council in response.
I was told of the vandalism in Wonga Street Canterbury, so just out of interest we went to have a look. I was unprepared for what I saw. Nine street trees, all mature Brushbox had been poisoned. Large drill holes were evident in all trees. It was like the person/people who did this thought – …..hmmm, looks too obvious – so they poisoned other trees on both sides of Wonga Street perhaps to disperse any finger pointing from both the Council & the community.
Who knows why they poisoned these trees. I don’t like to stress money when talking of trees as they provide many more benefits than money, but when talking about tree vandalism, I think it is worth focusing on property value & profit.
What we do know is that the vandal/s significantly decreased the value of many properties here, though I doubt they realize this. A lot of people don’t understand that the street tree out front has a big impact on their own property.
A friend who is a Real Estate Agent in the Inner West wrote the following to me recently –
When a buyer looks at a house they also look at the street. Time & time again I hear “I don’t like this street, it’s got no trees.” Streetscape makes a huge difference to property values.
Wonga Street is a busy road so the trees collected particulate matter & helped purify the air for the houses along here. The Brushbox trees being mature looked great once. You can tell from looking at the other untouched trees further along the street. In my opinion Brushbox trees have the ability to turn an ordinary street into something that is grand & that translates into money.
What Canterbury Council has done deserves praise. They have attached a sign to all the trees that says in large red letters – “This tree has been vandalized,” or “This tree has been poisoned” & ask people to contact the Council if they have any information.
They did not use nails to attach the signs, instead using a metal tie that makes it very difficult to remove the sign while at the same time protecting the tree. That the trees are dead or dying & they still took care not to use nails impressed me. It sends a clear message to people about respect & care for trees.
Next, they have not removed the dead or dying trees. I was told by a resident that these signs have been in place for around 3-years. Another said 12-months or more, but they were new to the area, so I can’t be sure.
If I were to poison a street tree it would be because I wanted it gone. A few months to one year before it was removed would not concern me. However, if the tree had signage on it & was to remain insitu for an indeterminate number of years, that would act as a massive deterrent.
Canterbury Council also planted some replacement trees. It appears that they will not remove the poisoned Brushbox until the new Brushbox trees have established to a decent size. I love that they planted the same species of tree.
Leaving the ugly vandalized tree insitu & with signage while the new tree grows takes the power back to the Council & removes any reward the vandal may have thought they would be gaining. I think their approach is excellent. But then again, I am hardline when it comes to community owned trees paid for by the tax-payers dollar. I do not believe anyone has the right to vandalise public trees & that includes radical pruning to keep the street tree a bonsai.
I imagine those who live in the leafy end of Wonga Street hate to pass these dead & dying trees, but at the same time appreciate that the Council has taken action to ensure that this doesn’t travel the length of the street. They are the ones who benefited by the shade of the Brushbox over this record-breaking hot summer. They will also benefit by higher property values if they decide to sell. I know. A Real Estate Agent told me so.
This was the Council Meeting. 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.
Notice of Motion by Clr Leary – Community request for park – High Street & Ruby Street, Marrickville – One resident spoke: The proposal is to remove the road reservation restriction. Because of the restriction MC hasn’t put much into this space & it’s become weed infested. Because of MC’s support, residents are weeding this area & we have started to get to know each other. I think it’s important to be taken to the community. Names I am suggesting are: Four Sisters Park – after Ruby, Harriet, Charlotte & Myrtle or Quarry Park. Making it a park will improve the amenity of the area.
Clr Leary: One of the staff’s suggestions is the need for a report. I don’t think we need a report, just to give staff direction. No way a road will be built here. It’s a steep cliff with stairs. I think we could get on with it. Motion – for designation of community land with a Plan of Management. Clr Woods: I endorse Clr Leary’s comments. There will be no road down there. It will become a fantastic little park because it has been neglected.
Clr Hanna: I’m voting for it, but we are taking the consultation out of it. We are not asking those next to it. To do something without telling the residents is not something we have done before. Staff: We would normally do community consultation, but it’s up to the Councillors whether they go ahead. Clr Leary: I am always happy with community consultation. My drafting didn’t reflect that. Vote: unanimous.
Removal of street tree outside 3/195 Wardell Road
Petersham (I think the tree is in Dulwich Hill. No suburb name was given in the papers)– From Council’s report: “The Melaleuca quinquenervia (Broad Leaved Paperbark) tree is considered to be in good condition & health with no visible structural issues. It is located under powerlines & has been continuously lopped by Ausgrid. This has affected the trees shape & habit, but it still provides good canopy & contributes to the overall landscape amenity of the area. Damage to the front brick wall of 195 Wardell Road is evident, as is some lifting of the footpath, but the footpath damage is not considered excessive & could be reasonably repaired and/or made safe. It is considered that the single skin low brick wall (which appears to have been constructed on a substandard single brick footing) is not a “significant” structure & that it can be repaired by reasonable & practical means enabling a healthy & viable street tree to be retained.”
One resident spoke: 3 residents want his tree removed. For the last 10-years we have wanted to repair the heritage fence, but two builders say it can’t be done. Two criteria are met – high damage to a significant structure of private property & front wall is damaged by roots & preventing owners from doing important underpinning work. The staff say the damage is not excessive. The footpath is damaged & hundreds of people walk here. It’s inevitable that this tree will be removed because it has grown above the powerline. The residents are prepared to pay $2,800 to remove the trees & replant another tree.
Clr Tsardoulias: This tree is inappropriate & causing significant damage to the building & footpath. It’s evident that the footpath has lifted & cracked. We could be liable for damage to this property. This is about getting the basic infrastructure right & moving on.
Clr Ellsmore: I understood last year we talked passionately about retaining trees when they damage the footpath. Staff: It’s impossible to gauge future damage. We can repair the footpath, but it will be ongoing. Has staff investigated the footpath? Staff: No. Cutting the root will destabilize the tree.
Clr Brooks: When we had a council workshop we were told that damage is caused by younger trees & that older trees have stopped growing. Staff: In similar circumstances we provide reconstruction of the footpath. Clr Gardener: The speaker says damage is caused inside the building. Do you have evidence? Staff: No. It would change my view.
Clr Phillips: I foreshadow that we get that information from staff. This is a healthy, significant tree doing minor damage. The crack in the fence could be fixed. This is a significant tree & a valuable asset for the community. I don’t believe MC should remove it unless sure that it is causing more damage. We should take the staff’s advice & the report.
Mayor Macri: This is a significant issue. Ausgrid has been hacking it. Once the crown reaches the powerline, the less tree you have. It has a large canopy. The roots reach out to the dripline. It’s a renewal issue. We should replace with a number of trees. Managing risk is when people start coming with claims.
Clr Hanna: I support taking the tree out. I always put myself in the same position. I’ve been saying 10-years ago that MC has been planting the wrong trees.
Clr Ellsmore: I would change my opinion if I could see a report on the damage [to the building]. Other Councils find innovative ways to retain their trees. One month will not make a difference. The tree is healthy.
Vote: to remove the tree – Mayor Macri, Clrs Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Haylen, Woods, Hanna & Tyler. Against – Clrs Phillips, Leary, Brooks, Ellsmore & Gardiner. The tree will be removed.
Marrickville Council has given notice that they intend to remove 2 Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis) in Park Road Sydenham outside Sydenham Green. Council gave the following reason for removal -
- “Two trees have been ring barked in an act of vandalism & are dying/ dead.”
They say they will replace them with 2 Brush Box trees (Lophostemon confertus) during 2013 planting season.
It was sad to see these trees. They have lost most of their bark, yet both are producing re-growth. I cannot work out why these trees were vandalized. They do not impede on a view or on the streetscape in any way.
I love that Council are planting Brush Box trees as they are a substantially sized tree that will green up the street as well as proving shade. They are also great for wildlife.
I thank Council for using sticky tape to fix the notification of removal signs to the trees.
The deadline for any submissions ends on Friday 26th April 2013. I will not be putting in a submission. email@example.com
The following was posted on Marrickville Council’s Facebook page –
“Nominate a Street Tree. Tell us about that vacant tree pit or tree-less grass verge in front of your house, & Council will come & plant a tree. We are preparing for the 2013 annual street tree planting program & are looking for suitable sites to plant street trees.
Send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org & provide the following information:
- ground surface (ie. Grass verge, concrete)
- power lines above?
The suitability of the site will be assessed by Council’s tree management team & an appropriate tree species determined. Nominations close on Tuesday 30 April.”
Thank you Marrickville Council. This is a wonderful initiative. I don’t think it would hurt to let Council know of other locations where tree pits are empty/covered with bitumen or of streets that need street trees either. They can only say no.
Please spread the word as there is a good chance many won’t hear about this. The deadline is only 2-weeks away & tree-planting only happens once a year.
Marrickville Council has given notification that they intend to remove 2 trees in Petersham.
Tree number 1: a Chinese Tallowwood (Sapium sebiferum) outside 44 Charles Street Petersham. Council gives the following reasons for removal –
- “Tree is causing significant damage to private property & public infrastructure.
- The damage &/or possible future damage to private property cannot be overcome by any practical means.”
Council says they will replace with a Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) during 2013 planting season.
Unfortunately this tree has two large roots travelling directly underneath the house. It has caused a couple of cracks to the brickwork of the porch.
Of interest, this tree is regarded as a ‘weed of local significance’ in neighbouring Leichhardt Council. It is also included in the Regional Weed Management for Sydney by NSW Department of Primary Industries. I have noticed these as street trees in many of the surrounding streets.
Tree number 2: a Jacaranda (Jacarand minosifolia) outside 15 McRae Street Petersham. Council gives the following reason for removal –
- “Tree is dead & poses a risk to public safety.”
Council says they will replace with a Tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys) during 2013 planting season.
Sadly the Jacaranda tree is dying. I thank Council for using sticky tape to fix the notification of removal signs to both the trees.
The deadline for submissions for both trees ends Friday 26th April 2013. I will not be sending in a submission. email@example.com
31 large mature trees were removed from the front of the St Vincent’s de Paul complex in West Street Lewisham in early 2011. The removal of these trees also took away the appearance of a beautiful avenue of trees along this section of West Street, something that was really appreciated by the community.
So on a recent visit to Petersham Park I was surprised to see that Marrickville Council had replaced a long section of the concrete footpath outside St Vincent’s de Paul failing to include a single street tree.
The footpath area outside the St Vincent’s de Paul complex is very wide & has no overhead powerlines. There is no building close to the road. There appears to be no obstacles of any kind – just wide open sky. It appears to be perfect for street trees & frankly they are needed along here being a busy road within a stones throw of even busier Parramatta Road.
How can the urban forest increase if every opportunity to plant trees is not taken? Many Australian Councils have a 3:1 or 4:1 policy. That is, for every tree that is removed, 3 or 4 trees are to be planted to not only replace the original tree loss, but to also increase the urban forest.
It is very disappointing that concrete is enough for Council when they appear to have had a wonderful opportunity to restore beauty on this side of West Street.
While in Petersham the other day I came across a man walking with
what I think was a male Eclectus an Indian Ringneck parrot sitting on his shoulder. It was quite a sight with such a beautiful bird. The bird’s name is Lovely. He was very lovely so his name is apt.
On talking to the bird’s owner I learnt that most afternoons or evenings he takes Lovely out to experience nature. He finds a good tree with fruit or flowers & allows Lovely to forage & feed. He also collects fruit & some flowers to take home to supplement the pet store prepared diet. It was great to see someone committed to giving a good life to his parrot.
When I showed the photos to my husband later that night, he said he had seen this man & his parrot spending time at our verge garden & we live a couple of kilometers away.
Meeting this bird showed me that pet birds also need good food-producing trees as well as the urban wildlife. This man needs to travel around Marrickville municipality sourcing fresh natural food for Lovely because it is not as abundant as it could be. So if you are planting, maybe plant something that provides food for the wild birds & for Lovely. I’m sure he will appreciate it.
Marrickville Council has given notice that they intend to remove a Tallow Wood (Eucalyptus microcorys) outside number 37 Edwin Street Tempe.
Council gives the following reasons for removal –
- “Tree had a significant limb failure due to high winds & an included branch junction (poor branch attachment) & is now unsafe due to a large exposed wound & lack of structural wood to support the upper canopy.
- Many upper branches have borer damage & are also included & are susceptible to failure.”
Council says they will replace with another Tallow Wood (Eucalyptus microcorys) during 2013 planting season.
This tree was not included in the list of proposed street trees for removal for Tempe in the recent Tree Inventory.
The tree lost a branch leaving a large hole essentially halving the trunk. This means that the top half of the tree is not sufficiently supported & this is easy to see. There is also a large area of visible borer damage in the upper trunk. I will not be writing a submission.
The deadline for any written submission ends on Friday 5th April 2013 – firstname.lastname@example.org