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Yesterday I received an e-mail from Voren, a local resident which included a bunch of photos of mutilated street trees on Riverside Crescent Dulwich Hill. These photos are a perfect example of how the streetscape can be ruined by pruning for electricity cables. I was extremely happy to receive these & welcome any photos or addresses of public trees you think is worth the attention of SoT. My e-mail address can be found on the About me page.
On 26th January 2010 the Cumberland Courier ran another street tree article titled Tears for mutilated trees. This time the residents of Lalor Park were distressed at the state Integral Energy left their 50-year-old street trees after pruning for overhead wires. Terms such as “hacked,” “massacred,” “mutilated” & “butchered” were used to describe the aftermath.
Back in October 2009 Blacktown City Council put Integral Energy on notice about their pruning practices after they had pruned the trees in Riverstone & surrounding suburbs.
When they saw what happened to the street trees in Lalor Park, Blacktown Council stepped in & suspended Integral Energy’s powerline clearance pruning work.
Integral Energy apologised & now has to work under the supervision of Blacktown Council, review their tree pruning practices & fulfil a range of other requirements.
Hallelujah! Finally a municipal council stepping in to ensure the street trees are not mutilated to the point where it is questionable whether they will survive, where the streetscape is marred for many years, where once beautiful trees are ruined forever & where people have to lose an essential part of what makes a street a desirable place to live as well as the negative impact on property values. It may be that a council has stepped in before, but apart from Mosman Council doing so many years ago, I am unaware of this.
The Lalor Park residents say they no longer have shade on the street or footpath. I can attest to that as my own street lost the shade from the street trees after recent pruning by Energy Australia. When the sun is overhead we now have the long shadow of the electricity & pay TV cables instead of shade from street trees. Frankly it looks weird & of course it is hot.
You can’t stand under a street tree having a chat to your neighbours anymore. You have to look for shade & move to it, either on private property or walk across the road where the street trees were only slightly pruned. This apparently small thing will have an impact on community relations over time.
This is a great article from the Cumberland Courier with much more information than I have reported. You can read it by clicking on the following link – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tears-for-mutilated-trees/ I thank the Cumberland Courier as they have been reporting on trees frequently of late.
Friends of the Urban Forest in San Francisco USA recently posted a call for help on their web-site asking residents to alert them to public trees which have been illegally pruned.
Friends of the Urban Forest & the Bureau of Urban Forestry (don’t you love these names) have planted 10,928 new street trees in San Francisco since 2003.
About street trees they say, “The small, younger trees currently provide very little environmental benefit…” meaning that if older more mature trees are removed due to heavy pruning which weakens them or makes them way too ugly, then replacing them is not as good as a solution as it seems on the surface. Personally I am worried that in our LGA we will reach the stage where we will have more young trees with thin trunks than we will have older trees.
Older trees sequester greater amounts of CO2, filter more particulate matter & other pollutants (though you need leaves to do this & there are plenty of trees with thick trunks, but with relatively few branches & leaves after pruning in Marrickville LGA), produce larger amounts of oxygen & collects more storm water runoff than does a tree with a thin trunk.
We can already see in some areas of our LGA that the skyline has few tall trees. I think it is a shame that we can count the trees visible along the skyline. This is not the case in many other suburbs of Sydney metropolitan area where the overall look & feel is green because their canopy is substantial.
We need to keep as many of the large stature street trees as we are able & our young trees need to be given a chance to grow up because it is then they provide the most benefit. Severe pruning clearly demonstrated in Voren’s photographs not only makes the tree ugly & negatively impacts the streetscape & our lives, but also weakens the tree making it more susceptible to disease. A weakened & diseased tree will be more likely to fall in a storm or some other event that places pressure upon it.
I do understand that street trees need to be pruned for the passage of overhead wires & I have never advocated that this should be stopped. I do believe however that our electricity companies can do a much better job of pruning & Blacktown Council’s intervention has proved this.
The article by Friends of the Urban Forest is interesting reading & describes the impact of over pruning & topping. They also have some fantastic photographs of trees that have been severely mutilated. You can access this via the following link – http://www.fuf.net/getInvolved/topping.html
On a final note, a local community group called Tempe 2010 is holding a rally on Saturday 6th February at 11am meeting in South Street (between Hart & Fanning Streets) Tempe. They are opposing the building of a new arterial road that is to go over the Cooks River, across the newly renovated Tempe Reserve & over the top of the lovely Tempe Wetlands ending at a t-section at Sydney Park.
SoT is interested not only because of the obvious factors of more roads, traffic, noise & pollution, but also because the Tempe Reserve is likely to be grossly affected & the damage to the wetlands is a real concern. There is also the question of how many trees will need to be removed to build this new road.
All the details as well as how to access information from the RTA about this project & to connect with Tempe 2010 can be accessed via the Marrickville Greens web-site http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/
The Greens have been in the Inner West Courier about this issue recently & have stated they are against this project as it stands. I hope the other councillors look into the impact of the new arterial road & decide to publicly oppose it if it is indeed as environmentally destructive as it seems to be. I say ‘seems’ because I haven’t looked into the literature as yet.
We cannot keep building cities for cars instead of people. Four vulnerable assets; the Cooks River, Tempe Reserve, the many old park trees & the Tempe Wetlands need to be fought for & protected by both Marrickville Council & the community if this project negatively impacts on these. One visit to these areas will show you just how much work Marrickville Council & community groups have put into improving all these sites over the years. I think this is a worthwhile event to attend & find out what we need to know to make an informed decision. It is also good to support a community group who is working to save quite significant assets for our benefit & for future generations. J