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The December 2012 media release from the UMR-McKell Institute started with, “New research from the UMR-McKell Institute Sydney Confidence Monitor shows that people living in Sydney are significantly less happy than those living in other parts of New South Wales. Sydney scores 56% while the rest of NSW scores 72%.”
The research table showed that Sutherland Shire residents were the happiest in the Sydney region scoring 70%. The North Shore was not too far behind with 63%.
While the researchers made a division for Sydney East & City, they did not do one for the Inner West – lumping us all together as Sydney West. We scored poorly on the happiness index with only 42%. Only 10% of the Sydney West group identified as totally happy, 3% were unsure & the remaining 87% said they were unhappy to varying degrees.
It’s a huge area from the Inner West to Penrith, but remember, in 2010, Deakin University’s annual Australian Unity Wellbeing Index identified Marrickville as the unhappiest suburb in Australia.
Unfortunately, the UMR-McKell Institute Sydney Confidence Monitor doesn’t say why people are suffering from unhappiness, so this absence allows me to bring in trees & green space, as these are known to influence levels of happiness along with income, housing, public transport, bike lanes etc.
The North Shore Times said the following in their article about the research from the UMR-McKell Institute, “North Shore residents are some of Sydney’s happiest with new research ranking the leafy northside’s happiness score above the eastern suburbs, CBD & western Sydney.” http://bit.ly/VAWPe6 The bold is my emphasis as the newspaper included trees as a way to visually define the North Shore.
There has been a bundle of research recently that clearly states trees, canopy cover & green space are fundamental for a physically, mentally & spiritually healthy community, so it does not surprise me that the North Shore would have higher levels of happiness.
Marrickville municipality has the least green space in the whole of Australia. This must count towards also having the unhappiest community in Australia. Yes we have street trees, but their average height is only 5.2-metres & so shorter than other nearby municipalities. You just need to travel to Leichhardt to see this. If you think it is because they have wider roads & footpaths, you just need to look at Erskineville, Glebe or Balmain. These are very leafy suburbs with tall street trees. It can be done. It has been done.
The Forestry Commission of Great Britain published research called, ‘Trees, People & the Built Environment.’ They studied public housing tenants who were allocated flats in areas that had trees & areas that had few or even no trees. The only difference in the housing quality was the presence of trees. They found that “the tenants with high nearby tree cover had higher happiness scores than those with few or no trees in their area. In particular, tenants with nearby trees were more likely to say they were feeling relaxed & were thinking clearly than those with no trees. The results of the study show that our urban trees are not just something to make an area look nice but they may actually be making people happier.” http://bit.ly/S8fjpR
Some would say money brings happiness more than trees do. Disposable income does elevate satisfaction levels & make life easier, though the Deakin University Australian Unity Wellbeing Index Report 2012 said – “Happiness is bought at discount by people who are poor. For people with a household income <$25,000, an additional $6,000 buys an extra point of wellbeing. At a household income of $151-250K it requires an additional $333,333.” This tells me that money does not always bring happiness & you need more of it to keep levels of happiness going.
The research by the Forestry Commission clearly showed that trees within our environment play a massive part in our happiness whatever our financial status. As such, priority should be given to green up our municipality by planting street trees & encouraging the community to plant a tree in their property if they have room.
Where there is new development, they should be required to retain as many trees on site as possible as well as plant new trees, not just low level landscaping.
Council should be encouraging businesses that have street frontages with garden areas to plant these spaces as these areas have a major impact on the way an area looks. Scrappy, weedy areas do not do well with the human psyche & as such, do not contribute to a happy community. The opposite can be said of businesses that look after their properties by having a bit of green if they are able.
‘Unchopping A Tree’ - written by W. S. Merwin.
“Start with the leaves, the small twigs, and the nests that have been shaken, ripped, or broken off by the fall; these must be gathered and attached once again to their respective places. It is not arduous work, unless major limbs have been smashed or mutilated. If the fall was carefully and correctly planned, the chances of anything of the kind happening will have been reduced.
Again, much depends upon the size, age, shape, and species of the tree. Still, you will be lucky if you can get through these stages without having to use machinery. Even in the best of circumstances it is a labor that will make you wish often that you had won the favor of the universe of ants, the empire of mice, or at least a local tribe of squirrels, and could enlist their labors and their talents. But no, they leave you to it. They have learned, with time. This is men’s work.
It goes without saying that if the tree was hollow in whole or in part, and contained old nests of bird or mammal or insect, or hoards of nuts or such structures as wasps or bees build for their survival, the contents will have to repaired where necessary, and reassembled, insofar as possible, in their original order, including the shells of nuts already opened.
With spider’s webs you must simply do the best you can. We do not have the spider’s weaving equipment, nor any substitute for the leaf’s living bond with its point of attachment and nourishment. It is even harder to simulate the latter when the leaves have once become dry – as they are bound to do, for this is not the labor of a moment.
Also it hardly needs saying that this the time for repairing any neighboring trees or bushes or other growth that might have been damaged by the fall. The same rules apply. Where neighboring tree were of the same species it is difficult not to waste time conveying a detached leaf back to the wrong tree. Practice, practice. Put your hope in that.
Now the tackle must be put into place, or the scaffolding, depending on the surroundings and the dimension of the tree. It is ticklish work. Almost always it involves, in itself, further damage to the area, which will have to be corrected later. But, as you’ve heard, it can’t be helped. And care now is likely to save you considerable trouble later. Be careful to grind nothing into the ground.
At last the time comes for the erecting of the trunk. By now it will scarcely be necessary to remind you of the delicacy of this huge skeleton. Every motion of the tackle, every slightly upward heave of the trunk, the branches, their elaborately reassembled panoply of leaves (now dead) will draw from you an involuntary gasp.
You will watch for a lead or a twig to be snapped off yet again. You will listen for the nuts to shift in the hollow limb and you will hear whether they are indeed falling into place or are spilling in disorder — in which case, or in the event of anything else of the kind – operations will have to cease, of course, while you correct the matter.
The raising itself is no small enterprise, from the moment when the chains tighten around the old bandages until the boles hands vertical above the stump, splinter above splinter. How the final straightening of the splinters themselves can take place (the preliminary work is best done while the wood is still green and soft, but at times when the splinters are not badly twisted most of the straightening is left until now, when the torn ends are face to face with each other). When the splinters are perfectly complementary the appropriate fixative is applied.
Again we have no duplicate of the original substance. Ours is extremely strong, but it is rigid. It is limited to surfaces, and there is no play in it. However the core is not the part of the trunk that conducted life from the roots up to the branches and back again. It was relatively inert. The fixative for this part is not the same as the one for the outer layers and the bark, and if either of these is involved in the splintered sections they must receive applications of the appropriate adhesives. Apart from being incorrect and probably ineffective, the core fixative would leave a scar on the bark.
When all is ready the splintered trunk is lowered onto the splinters of the stump. This, one might say, is only the skeleton of the resurrection. Now the chips must be gathered, and the sawdust, and returned to their former positions. The fixative for the wood layers will be applied to chips and sawdust consisting only of wood. Chips and sawdust consisting of several substances will receive applications of the correct adhesives.
It is as well, where possible, to shelter the materials from the elements while working. Weathering makes it harder to identify the smaller fragments. Bark sawdust in particular the earth lays claim to very quickly. You must find our own way of coping with these problems.
There is a certain beauty, you will notice at moments, in the patterns of the chips as they are fitted back into place. You will wonder to what extent it should be described as natural, to what extent man-made. It will lead you on to speculations about the parentage of beauty itself, to which you will return.
The adhesive for the chips is translucent, and not so rigid as that for splinters. That for the bark and its subcutaneous layers if transparent and runs into the fibers on either side, partially dissolving them into each other. It does not set the sap flowing again but it does pay a kind of tribute to the preoccupations of the ancient thoroughfares. You could not roll an egg over the joints but some of the mine-shafts would still be passable, no doubt for the first exploring insect who raises its head in the tight echoless passages.
The day comes when it is all restored, even to the moss (now dead) over the wound. You will sleep badly, thinking of the removal of the scaffolding that must begin the next morning. How you will hope for sun and a still day!
The removal of the scaffolding or tackle is not a dangerous, perhaps, to the surroundings, as its installation, but it presents problems. It should be taken from the spot piece by piece as it is detached, and stored at a distance. You have come to accept it there, around the tree. The sky begins to look naked as the chains and struts one by one vacate their positions.
Finally the moment arrives when the last sustaining piece is removed and the tree stands again on its own. It is as though its weight for a moment stood on your heart. You listen for a thud of settlement, a warning creak deep in the intricate joinery. You cannot believe it will hold. How like something dreamed it is, standing there all by itself. How long will it stand there now? The first breeze that touches its dead leaves all seems to flow into your mouth. You are afraid the motion of the clouds will be enough to push to over. What more can you do? What more can you do?
But there is nothing more you can do.
Others are waiting.
Everything is going to have to be put back.”
‘Unchopping a Tree’ first appeared in ‘The Miner’s Pale Children,’ published in 1970.
W.S. Merwin was born in New York in 1927. Amazon writes – “W.S. Merwin is the 17th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States. He is the author of over fifty books of poetry, prose, and translations. He has earned every major literary prize, most recently the National Book Award for ‘Migration: New and Selected Poems’ and the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for ‘The Shadow of Sirius.’ He lives in Hawaii where he raises endangered palm trees.” http://amzn.to/Lq7QN2
I haven’t been on Facebook long & have found it to be a place where nice things happen as well as good connections & the occasional surprise. Recently a Facebook friend sent me a poem & a photo of a tree that she had kept since she was a child. I was surprised that she would give these to me as they obviously have had great meaning for her.
I find it lovely that a child can connect so strongly to trees that they keep something like this in their possession well into adulthood. Maybe it is a girl thing because I also had a poem I found in one of my mother’s magazines that I found quite profound & kept for many years.
The poem is called ‘Trees’ & was written by Andrew Lang. Not having heard of him I did a Google search & found that he was a poet & novelist, journalist, literary critic, historian & Anthropologist writing for both children & adults. Andrew Lang was born in March 1844 in Selkirk Scotland & was the eldest of 8 children. He died in July 1912 aged 68. He was a prolific writer to say the least, writing predominantly on folklore, religion & mythology. He also translated fairy tales from other languages into English.
Once I read through the list of his books I saw that I had read more than one of his works. Many of his books are so famous that probably most people have come across his writing.
Amazon republished ‘The Crimson Fairy Book’ in March 2012 -
“Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books or Andrew Lang’s “Coloured” Fairy Books constitute a twelve-book series of fairy tale collections. Although Andrew Lang did not collect the stories himself from the oral tradition, the extent of his sources, who had collected them originally (with the notable exception of Madame d’Aulnoy), made them an immensely influential collection, especially as he used foreign-language sources, giving many of these tales their first appearance in English. As acknowledged in the prefaces, although Lang himself made most of the selections, his wife and other translators did a large portion of the translating and telling of the actual stories.”
It would be no good for the poem & photo to find its way into a drawer at my home so I am sharing them with you. Think of the little girl who was so moved about trees that she kept it, probably reading it tens of times over the years. An adult now, she still loves trees, which is why our paths have crossed.
Professor Suzanne Simard from the University of British Columbia speaks about mother trees, roots & fungi. She believes this underground network of root & fungi is like a brain allowing trees to communicate with each other.
Mother tree – 4.5 minute video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8SORM4dYG8
It’s been a while since I’ve had the space to write about this amazing project that would have just started in Southern Queesnsland.
The Condamine Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation plans to create a Celtic ‘eternity knot’ symbol out of trees, calling it Treehenge.
More than 85,000 trees will be planted in the design that will cover an area of around 6 football fields wide by 15 football fields long at the head of the Condamine River. This area is called the Condamine River Basin & the Condamine Alliance expects that the eternity knot will be visible from the International Space Station.
The Condamine River flows to Adelaide & it is hoped that many more trees will be planted the length of the river to improve the land of one of Australia’s major food bowls, the Darling Downs. The Condamine Alliance also intend to improve biodiversity by providing lost habitat for native wildlife.
“The trees planted will repair eighty hectares of eroded land, help improve air & water quality & ultimately encourage the return of native animals such as koalas, wallabies, echidna, black snakes & blue tongues.”
What an amazing project & such a bonus for the environment. Everyone can be a part of this project by donating a tree. They are doing something which I love; that is giving people the opportunity to have a tree planted to commemorate an important occasion – weddings, christenings, milestones & deaths, even a tree for your pet. Trees are expected to live for more than-30 years. You can find Treehenge here – http://treehenge.com.au/
Marrickville Council have recently planted 10 Gordonias as street trees along the Tempe Railway Station side of the bridge that crosses over from Richardsons Crescent Marrickville to Unwins Bridge Road Tempe. What a great choice of tree & what a great location to plant this particular species.
Gordonias have a regular & predictable shape so it is unlikely they will cause any problems with the railway line or cables below.
These trees are not deciduous so the community will have a row of trees that have glossy green leaves all year round. In my opinion, far too many of our street trees look like witches fingers for 5-6 months a year allowing for the hard landscape to show through.
Gordonias produce large showy white flowers with a yellow centre & look like fried eggs. They drop their flowers as a characteristic & in this location will land on the surrounding grass. The birds & bees love Gordonia flowers so this is a useful tree that provides food for urban wildlife & beauty for people.
The addition of spectacular flowering trees will improve the streetscape dramatically. The Gordonias should also provide much needed shade for the many pedestrians that cross this bridge. Excellent work Marrickville Council.
I have written more about Gordonias here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/gordonia-flowers-like-fried-eggs/
On 21st June 2011 the Bureau of Meteorology warned of wind gusts of 110 km/h buffeting the Hunter ahead of a strong cold front. Suddenly the weather becomes interesting because once again the Laman Street Fig trees in Newcastle are fighting for their lives. Statewide Mutual, who insures Newcastle City Council sent a letter of demand – the trees must be removed by 31st August 2011 unless Council can provide new evidence that the trees won’t fall down. If Council does not chop down the trees, any incident will not be covered by insurance, putting the Council between a rock & a hard place.
It seems that Statewide Mutual doesn’t have a copy of the community contracted Arborists Report by Mark Hartley, a renown & respected Arborist in Australia. Looking at his webpage, it’s hard to understand why his opinion that these trees are safe is being ignored. http://treedoc.com.au/ Another respected Arborist, veteran tree specialist Sean Freeman has publicly stated that he supports Mark Hartley’s assessment of the Laman Street Figs after viewing the report & inspecting the trees himself. http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/arborist-questions-fig-tree-safety-risk/1951564.aspx
Newcastle Councillor Bob Cook brought the Laman Street Figs back into the spotlight on 31st May 2011 before the letter of demand by Statewide Mutual by calling for the trees removal. He also suggested monitoring the trees with an accelerometer on a number of occasions over 6-15 months for a cost of up to $100,000. The cost alone is enough to make most people concede defeat.
An accelerometer measures the movement of the tree when pulled, mimicking the conditions of high winds. Thing is, Mother Nature has tested the trees for free on 4 occasions since the Pasha Bulka storm in June 2007. This storm was described as a ‘mini cyclone.’ It beached the oil tanker Pasha Bulka aground on Nobbies Beach & smashed Newcastle, yet the Laman Street trees standing today made it through that storm (and others since) unaffected.
Clr Cook has written to the community saying they are “in denial” & “clutching at straws.”
Amazingly SoT recently celebrated its second birthday. I say amazingly because this blog has developed into something I did not expect. I like to thank people & there have been many who have helped me, so here goes –
- I thank you all for your support by coming here & reading. Thank you also for letting others know of SoT. Word of mouth is the best reference.
- Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send in a submission to Council to try & save a tree &/or sent emails to our Councillors regarding trees or an environmental issue. Because of your involvement there have been a number of trees saved & positive changes to what is now the Urban Forest Policy.
- Thanks also to those who follow SoT on Twitter & more recently Face Book. I did not want to do either & have been very surprised at the depth of knowledge shared on these two platforms & this has helped me immensely.
- Thank you to all who have spoken to me or sent an email sharing your knowledge, ideas & information. I have appreciated your feedback on what I am doing as well as your input regarding where you think work on the environment in Marrickville LGA is needed. I have met some wonderful people who are just as concerned about our local environment as I am.
- Thanks to the Arborists who have shared their knowledge regarding trees & tree care.
- Thanks also to the other professionals; the landscape architects, the plumbers, the horticulturalists, the gardeners & those with knowledge of the urban environment who have kindly answered my varied questions.
- Thanks to the Marrickville Heritage Society who have been supportive towards SoT & provided information about heritage trees in the LGA.
- Thanks to Metro Watch for their support concerning the trees of Marrickville Metro.
- Thanks also to those Councillors who have voted to save trees up for removal, who have replied to my emails & who voted to ensure that the Urban Forest Policy is what it is today. Without these Councillors we would have had 5,000 public trees removed over the next 5 years.
- Finally, thank you to the staff at Marrickville Council for answering my questions, replying to my emails & for the improvements made to the Urban Forest Policy, which I believe are quite substantial. I also thank Council for allowing community consultation regarding public trees & matters concerning the environment. This may have always been the case, but it is an approach that I appreciate.
I hope SoT continues to grow & that we can make a positive impact on our environment so that the streetscape is leafier & greener for future generations. I think trees are incredibly important in making areas livable & fortunately for me, the current research backs up this belief with real facts. The more tree canopy & green spaces there are, the happier & healthier people tend to be. I’d like to see the parts of the LGA that are bare become as leafy as other parts. It’s also important for me to acknowledge that Marrickville Council does some great work for the environment. I hope the future budget allocations are sufficient to allow more of this kind of work because we will all benefit immensely, as will urban wildlife.