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A couple of weeks ago a friend & I tackled 4 streets in Petersham that had many trees proposed for removal as a result of the Tree Inventory. As the streets were close together, they seemed a good choice. The streets were John, Albert, Denning & Marshall. The following photos are the trees on the removal list in John Street Petersham. I will do the other streets in later posts.
The trees up for removal in John Street were outside numbers: 17, 19, 21 (x 2 trees), 23, 29 (x 2 trees), 46-48, 49, 59 & 251 (x 2 trees) – total 12 trees. We could not find the 2 trees at the address 251 John Street as there was no such street number. The photos of the trees up for removal are below.
I received an email with photos today from a local resident who, when walking along Victoria Road Marrickville, saw Council workers spraying red paint along a fence near a street tree.
“I spoke with the person from Council. He said the roots are a problem with the wall & there is a crack in the driveway & “it [the tree] will probably have to go.” There didn’t appear to be any pavement damage. Can’t they just fix the ancillary problems without cutting down the tree? It appears very healthy & the biggest of many the same on this street. I’m hoping there will be consultation & community consensus before such a drastic measure is taken.”
There is nothing about this tree on Marrickville Council’s website so we are probably a bit early.
I haven’t seen the tree myself yet, but the photos are pretty clear that it is one of the great Gum trees in this street. The damage to private property needs to be significant to warrant taking out such a beautiful & beneficial tree.
The recent heatwave is an indication of what we can look forward to with a changing climate. Climate scientists say we should expect many more days & longer periods of extreme heat like what we experienced recently. Even now it is hard to find shade walking along many of our streets.
With 98 street trees to be removed soon & a further 1,492 street trees up for removal after that before Council starts on the ‘over mature’ trees, our urban forest is being hit hard. Councillors can call it renewal instead of removal, but saplings do not make an urban forest.
Friday 7th December 2012 - Good news to report. Clr Phillips wrote on FaceBook today –
“Council staff informed me: A request for removal of the street tree has been refused, however Council is arranging for removal of a small section of concrete footpath to check whether tree roots are damaging the adjoining fence. There is currently no intention to remove the tree.” Excellent.
I went to a lovely National Tree Day event today organized by the Wolli Creek Preservation Society – contact link on blogroll on the left-hand column. A large crowd of all ages divided into small groups for a guided walk through the area of Wolli Creek bushland that is at risk of being destroyed for an extension to the M5 motorway tunnel.
From the Wolli Creek Preservation Society newsletter June 2012 – “The top priority for the society at present is the threat posed to the Wolli Valley bushland by the Roads & Maritime Services proposed duplication of the M5 east motorway tunnel. Plans for a cut-and-cover tunnel east of Bexley Road would wipe out a rare stand of remnant rainforest trees, wreck the natural creek line & destroy two hectares of high-priority bushland where restoration work has proved highly successful. Exploratory drilling could happen at any time.”
Painted hands prepared by local school children marked the track & here & there in the bush some of the beautiful trees were wrapped in colourful material. This was very successful in bringing one’s eye to the range of trees within this area. It was a gorgeous effect & must have taken quite a while for those who prepared the site for today. It was interesting to have the time to look at the trees that could be lost to the M5 tunnel & appreciate just how many very large trees are located in this section of Wolli Creek.
What was also nice & helpful was that plants, weeds & trees were labeled along the path allowing us to learn their names, as well as know what vegetation was good & what were weeds.
There was also a historical section called ‘Bowen’s Camp’ showing where a couple with two children lived during the Great Depression of the 1930s. This would not have been an easy time & though water is close, growing food must have been hard in the sandy soil. I thought it quite lovely that the sandstone markers the Bowen family used for their paths & gardens had been preserved & not lost over time.
The walk finished at the new Bioretention Basin – see – http://bit.ly/Ms5rzR & then went up to Johnston Avenue where a sumptuous morning tea was waiting. A volunteer gave a number of illustrated talks about the history of this section of Wolli Creek & how the M5 motorway tunnel would literally destroy the area we just walked through.
I’ve been to a number of National Tree Day events & planted trees. This was the first event where I was given time to admire trees as well as information about an area of bushland that I knew very little about. I enjoyed the experience & very much hope that a new route is found for the M5 motorway tunnel.
A short diversion of the M5 tunnel route would allow a very special piece of vital bushland to be retained. This would be very good for wildlife that have very little in terms of real areas of habitat left in the inner west & also provide many ongoing & important health benefits for the community. Wolli Creek itself & the Wolli Creek Preservation Society deserve our support to retain this precious area of remnant Sydney bushland.
On 1st December 2011 seven (7) Newcastle Councillors voted once again to not take up Premier Barry O’Farrell’s offer of an Arborist who is unconnected to Newcastle City Council to do an independent assessment on the Laman Street Figs trees – even though community group Save Our Figs Inc (SOF) were to pay half the costs.
Instead, the Councillors opted to ignore the community petition that has passed 13,000 signatures. They chose to ignore the large group of residents who attended the Council Meeting in support of the Figs. They chose to ignore the almost weekly peaceful rallies held by the community either at the Town Hall or at the Figs – or as close as they can get with the cyclone fencing & security guards who are ensuring no one can get near the trees, according to the Newcastle Herald newspaper, a cost of $6,000 per day. They chose to ignore the numerous emails from the community pleading with them to allow the assessment because the community does not believe that the Figs are dangerous.
As is their right, the Councillors said no – as they have been saying for months, although no one has been hurt by a tree since this all started, nor has any part of a tree fallen – even through a Category 2 cyclone & other high wind weather events. One would have to wonder why. One would also be forgiven for wondering why people elected by the community to represent them are so intent on not listening to the community, so intent on pushing their own views through. Some of the Councillors are quite public about this in meetings, in emails, in the newspapers & on local TV.
I have watched this community campaign with interest since it started, around 2 years ago. Apart from the Newcastle Mayor, who after meeting with the community & after reading other opposing professional opinions, changed his mind. He became a supporter of the Figs & a supporter of an independent assessment. He has received public abuse & ridicule for this.
Save Our Figs members have had offensive videos posted about them that in truth are slanderous & not about the trees at all. A Councillor emailed a local business woman who is a supporter of the trees calling her a f****** scrum & invited her to come out to dinner with him & some of his friends where they will show her a good time. The same Councillor called a SOF member another discriminating name. This would not be tolerated in the workplace.
Comments were made in the newspaper with personally abusive characterizations about individuals in the community who are trying to save these trees. Community opposition has been blamed for skyrocketing costs to the Council, except that the community’s message has been the same for months. They want an independent assessment & the Council doesn’t. Somehow this becomes costs. Mind you, the community has paid for their own campaign, their own Arborist reports & their own court costs.
The city is divided. There are some that quite reasonably want it all over. So do SOF. The only difference is that it has become personal with people thinking that the community is holding the city up for trying to save valuable resources……in a time of global warming……when what the community are asking is not unreasonable.
The Newcastle Herald reported that at the end of the Council Meeting on the 1st December one of the Councillors pushed over former Newcastle Councillor Margaret Henry who had come to support the Fig trees. Ms Henry is aged 77-years. The police are investigating & may be laying charges of assault. http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/fig-debate-turns-ugly-police-called/2378564.aspx?storypage=1
There is a lesson in this. People do care about trees & won’t sit back in apathy & let apparently healthy trees be removed without a campaign & they can do this peacefully as a united crowd. This community has been prepared to continue the campaign even though it has been happening over many months for most, 2 years for quite a few. The community is educated on the subject & sophisticated in their methods. They have put in the hours to know their subject well.
Unfortunately on the flip side we have learnt that a Council who perhaps feels backed into a corner won’t give in to the community’s demands, even though the demands are reasonable & have an end clause. If the independent assessment says the trees are unsafe, then the fight is over & Newcastle can go ahead & remove the trees.
The Council won’t budge even though the NSW Premier has offered assistance. Even though the Liberal MP for Newcastle is asking the Councillors to take up the Premier’s offer & even though 2 of the Councillors voting against an independent assessment are Liberal party members. We have learnt that the fight becomes personal & hurtful & that much of this is done by those hiding behind a cloak of anonymity.
The Councillors have voted not to have an independent assessment, which means that the men with chainsaws will likely start chopping down these 14 healthy trees once the injunction has ended. Whether the community will sit back is another thing entirely. The Council will blame them for more costs & around & around we go.
Yesterday’s news in the Newcastle Herald has a Councillor saying that he has “lodged a motion calling for an investigation into ‘‘deliberate delays” & “surcharging councillors ‘‘in respect to culpable negligence or misconduct.”
Another Councillor has released a document named ‘The Litany of Lies’ saying, “the Save Our Figs group should be held accountable for the $1.5million fiasco.” http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/pay-up-for-fig-fiasco-says-buman/2386854.aspx
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
Last Tuesday I wrote about a 1-year-old Eucalypt in Mackey Park that had its stakes removed & being in a windy area, was unsupported with most of the tree almost on the ground.
I wrote to a Councillor requesting their help to ask Marrickville Council to re-stake this tree as soon as possible before it died. On Friday evening this poor tree was still almost prostrate, so today we returned to the park & did the job ourselves. While Mackey Park does have trees, a tall-growing Gum is much needed for both shade & beauty. Quite simply, this tree deserved to live. It’s looking like if you want to keep public trees in this municipality, you either have to fight to keep them or save them yourself.
You can read the previous post about this tree here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/mackey-park-tree-needs-help/
Tonight is soccer training night at Mackey Park & I received a request to report on two issues.
First, the positive one. Marrickville Council has installed two park benches near the trees along the Richardson Crescent side of Mackey Park. This is a nice & very needed addition to the amenity of the park. The benches will go some way toward providing comfort to the families that watch games & training sessions or those who want to have a rest in the shade.
Second, the not so positive one. Some in the community have told me, & I personally observed, that Council is removing the support stakes from some of the trees planted in last year’s planting season. We have observed that, after the supports are removed, some of the young trees are falling over in the wind. At Mackey Park most of the new trees have been planted in a secure frame. These are thriving. Two of the young Gums near the clubhouse were not in frames, but were supported only by stakes. Council has recently removed the stakes & there is a 50% failure: One of the two Gums, which is about 1.2 metres tall, has bent over badly after the wind & is in serious risk of snapping. It needs emergency attention to re-stake it or provide a frame for it, so that we do not lose a valuable one-year’s growth & another tree.
While I understand that Council may be removing stakes from young trees in order to reuse them & save money, I think it is false economy when the outcome is a high percentage of young tree failure. Please Marrickville Council, save this young tree before it is too late. It would be good if stakes for young trees could be left a while longer. Some stakes & tree protection stay in place for some years. Why do some others need to be removed so early in the life of a tree?
This evening 14 members of the community met at the street tree outside 29 Laura Street Newtown with Marrickville Council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, the Tree Manager & Councillor Peters.
The Tree Manager outlined the reasons why the tree was to be removed. He said the following:
The tree is too big for the area & has structural problems due to repeat pruning by the energy company. Council engaged an Arborist to try & mitigate situations like this. The resident had a large branch drop on their roof causing damage. The first thing Council noticed when they visited the tree was that a driveway crossover had been installed this year next door. Council suspects that the branch drop was caused by pruning of roots during the installation of the driveway, though we do not know whether roots were cut.
Another Council Arborist identified that the entire canopy is due to regrowth for the powerlines. The tree has been butchered & all of the regrowth is coming from knuckle points. Wind load & stress on the branches can be extreme. He estimated that the regrowth was between 4-8 years. For Council to get trees pruned around powerlines they have to employ someone who is specially rated. To maintain the tree to be non-hazardous, Council would need to reduce the canopy under the powerlines & the tree will never grow properly attached branches.
The loss of amenity is disrespectful to the tree by not allowing it to grow properly to its full potential. There is also increased problems to the sandstone kerb & can create problems if allowed to create a fulcrim. This probably wouldn’t happen if we were to prune the canopy. The tree is less than 40-years old. (This surprised us & there was some discussion about the anecdotal history of the tree being older). The health of the tree isn’t an issue, though it does have an old fungal fruiting body indicating internal decay. Council would need to get this tested. The cost of Aerial Bundled Cabling is between $7,000-$9,000 a span. He said he didn’t have the capital to factor Aerial Bundled Cabling into his management decisions, especially because the tree dropped a branch on the roof. There is no way to prune back to comply with Australian standards.
There seems to be a perception in the community that we remove trees willy-nilly. This is not the truth. We have about 25,000 trees & we do intergenerational management of these trees. I still recommend removal of this tree. Obviously this has caused a great deal of public concern. The tree is not being removed on aesthetic grounds. We would need to prune or inspect the tree every 18-months. Ideally we would replace with an Angophora. I haven’t planted this tree yet & would like to trial it.
When I asked how tall these trees grow, he said, 6-7metres in sandstone or 5-8 metres in clay & the branches can be directionally pruned.
Clr Peters said that trees on the North Shore drop branches all the time & are not removed when this happens. A resident said they were concerned the issue of safety wasn’t put on list of reasons for the tree removal. Another asked if Council knew whether the roots were affecting the house. The residents closest to the tree said they did have some cracking, but they were on clay soil so cracks opened up & closed again depending on how much rain there was. Another resident said the safety of the residents was really important, but if there were no danger, they would like to see Council explore options to save the tree. The community agreed with this.
The Director of Infrastructure said Council will look at using Aerial Bundled Cabling & consult a Level 5 Arborist before Council makes a decision on the tree. If the Arborist backs up the first report, the tree will have to be removed, but if there is no danger, Council will look at formative pruning of the tree. Council will report their findings to those present at today’s meeting. Naturally, I will share this information here.
I thank Clr Peters for organizing this meeting, the first of its kind since SoT started. I also thank the Director of Infrastructure Services & the Tree Manager for patiently explaining Council’s position & listening to the concerns of the community, especially as the meeting was after business hours. It was great for Marrickville Council to engage in this level of community consultation. Thank you also to those in the community who sent in a submission & to those who attended this evening’s meeting.