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Planet Ark has just released their 2014 research in the lead-up to National Tree Day – ‘Valuing Trees: What is Nature Worth?’
The following are just some of the research findings -
- “Australians would be willing to pay an average of $35,000 more to buy a home in a nature-filled neighbourhood than for an identical home in an area with little nature.
- 4 out of 5 Australians (78%) said they would prefer to live in a home with many natural elements, such as trees, plants and a garden, over one that does not have these features.
- Having a home with a backyard and living in a “green” neighbourhood with trees, parks and gardens was rated as more important than being close to work, having easy access to public transport, and having good shops or a shopping centre nearby.
- More than two-thirds of Australians (68%) agree that living in a neighbourhood with lots of trees, gardens, and parks would reduce their stress levels.
- 2 in 3 Australians (66%) agree they would be more likely to do outdoor exercise if they lived in a green neighbourhood.”
Trees are a public health issue. Having lots of good trees & a visible canopy makes for happier & healthier communities. Marrickville Council should allocate more funding in the annual budget to allow the urban forest to be increased & also to create equity of streetscape across the whole municipality.
You can download Planet Ark’s full Report or the shorter Key Findings here. It is an interesting read – http://treeday.planetark.org/research/
National Tree Day is celebrated across the Australia on Sunday 27th July 2014. Marrickville Council will be holding their National Tree Day event two weeks later on Sunday 10th August from 10.30am – 1.00pm at Tillman Park Sydenham. Council says the community will be able to participate in “planting local native trees, shrubs, sedges, grasses, ferns and groundcovers.”
The staggered dates will give us a chance to participate in other National Tree Day events held locally, as well as our own.
The City of Sydney & Planet Ark’s National Tree Day event is held on the traditional date – Sunday 27th July 2014 from 10:00am – 2:00pm at the southern end of Sydney Park. Participants will be able to experience the joy of planting trees. Last year’s event was fabulous. They plan for the community to plant between 4,000 & 5,000 trees during the event. This is a small forest! Judging by previous years crowds, I’d say the target will be achieved, probably with time to spare. Can you imagine how great 5,000 trees will look as they start to grow! It is a nice feeling to walk past growing trees that you have helped plant & I imagine that this feeling is even greater for children who helped plant a tree/s.
I’ll post a reminder of these events closer to the date.
London has 4.4-million trees calculated to be worth $1.5-billion. The trees remove $4.5-million pollution annually, provide $1.7-million in energy savings & provide $10.3-million annual value from reducing greenhouse gases – a whopping 48,500 tonnes of CO2. London’s trees work hard.
“About 87% of all London trees are in parks, natural areas & low-density residential areas. 78% are in good to excellent condition, 11% are poor to fair, 11% are dead. The three most common species in London are buckthorn, eastern white cedar & sugar maple. There are 126 species, about 50% of which are native to Ontario. Three leafiest species are Norway maple, sugar maple & black walnut. At chest height, 77.5% of London trees are less than 15 cm (six inches) in diameter. London’s trees can be considered a carbon bank, storing 360,000 tonnes of carbon.” See – http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2012/05/06/19723801.html
The City of Melbourne is doing what I have wanted to happen here for a long time – putting a dollar value on their public trees. They are using the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show as an opportunity to educate visitors of the value of the trees in Carlton Gardens, where the show is being held.
The trees in the southern section only of Carlton Gardens are worth nearly $6 million. Not all the trees in this section have been valued, so the final total would be higher. This dollar amount gives the community a snapshot, which they can mentally transfer to individual trees, the other many large parks in Melbourne & suburbs as well as their long avenues of large street trees.
i-Tree Eco software is being used to calculate the value of each tree. I have written about this free downloadable software previously. See – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/calculating-the-dollar-value-of-trees/ & http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/itree-version-4-0/
“The trial application of i-Tree in Carlton Gardens South has shown that around 300 trees remove around 242 kgs of air pollution a year, currently store 620,000 kgs of carbon & sequester 9,500 kgs of carbon each year. Best performing species appears to be Ficus macrophylla & some of the Ulmus species also provide high value. The calculation of the value takes into account several factors including ground cover area, leaf area & leaf biomass, as well as height & size of each tree. There is growing recognition of the importance of the ‘urban forest’ – that is all the trees & shrubs on both private & public land – to our health & wellbeing in many ways, both physically & emotionally. This importance will be enhanced as we can now put an economic value on the urban forest.”
When the community recognise that the street tree out front is worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars & that its presence translates into raising the value of their property or street, they will be (hopefully) less likely to mistreat the tree & more likely to look after it. New tree plantings will be less likely to be removed or sabotaged.
Prior to their poisoning, the 2 beautiful mature Hill’s Figs in Margaret Street Dulwich Hill not only provided massive health & environmental benefits to the local area, they also significantly raised the value of housing both in Margaret Street & nearby streets as well.
One Fig tree in Carlton Gardens was valued at $60,000 so we can reasonably say that the poisoning of the 2 mature Hills; Figs in Margaret Street Dulwich Hill robbed the local community & the greater community of Marrickville LGA of public assets worth around $120,000. Those who are lucky enough to have a large landmark tree near their property reap many more benefits than those who have a small tree or worse, concrete only outside their property.
Trees are worth big bucks & this demonstration in Carlton Gardens will likely shock many people who have never thought of trees as being an economic asset. If people realised the monetary gain to their own property, they would think seriously before poisoning a street tree due to leaf litter, wildlife, shade or some other reason.
Hopefully Marrickville Council will do similar calculations as part of the upcoming tree inventory, so that we can have local examples that schools & Council can use to educate & engage the community.
As well as the article there is a map of Carlton Gardens South at the following link showing the dollar value of each tree. If you zoom the screen a number of times the map is easier to read. – http://www.plantlifebalance.com.au/more-trees-please/trees-shading-visitors-to-melbourne-international-flower-garden-show-valued-at-nearly-6-million/
You can gauge a country’s wealth, its real wealth, by its tree cover. ~ Dr Richard St Barbe Baker, Man of the Trees
I came across a great video today about the urban forest of Santa Monica in California. The Council is currently undertaking community consultation about their urban forest.
The video called ‘The Value of Trees’ has some very interesting information about the urban forest in Santa Monica, but applies equally to our own. Throughout the video their Urban Forrester, the equivalent of our Tree Manager speaks about the benefits of the urban forest with real pride. At one stage he grabs some leaves of a street tree, pulls them through his gripped hand & shows the particulate matter that tree has captured.
He & another Urban Forrester said about their Councillors,
“The city council is a huge supporter of our program, the urban forestry program. They are very green, they are very progressive when it comes to new methods & new techniques. They have recognized the need for an aggressive maintenance program for the overall health of our canopy & urban forest. They have tripled & quadrupled our annual budget in the last 10 years.”
Some interesting points for those who don’t want to watch the video -
- 2.54cms or 1 sq inch of tree equals US$26 dollars.
- The city of Santa Monica has over 33,800 public trees.
- These trees are worth $138 million by their replacement value alone.
- When you take into account the environmental benefits their public trees are worth $315,455,400.
- For every dollar spent on tree maintenance, the tree gives back $1.62 & this increases as the tree grows.
- The larger the tree gets, the more environmental benefits & the more that tree is worth.
- Street trees benefit people directly.
You can watch the 6 minute video & marvel at their streetscapes by clicking here – http://vimeo.com/23991375
Davey Tree Expert Company must be feeling really happy at the moment. i-tree, a software program, they designed with the US Forest Service & released to the market in 2006 has become an item of huge interest over the last couple of months. Deservedly so too, as the program is a fantastically useful tool that can be downloaded by anyone free of charge. Instruction manuals can be downloaded free of charge as well.
Tree Hugger has recently written about the i-tree software as well as a number of other high profile green websites. There is much excitement in the media about i-tree. This surprised me because the i-tree software has been around for nearly 5-years. The recent interest clearly demonstrates an attitude that is pro street tree.
i-tree can be used to calculate the value of a single tree or the value of the trees across a whole city. It can be used a teaching tool by schools or as a professional assessment tool by councils, industry, arborists, landscape architects, anyone really.
“The i-Tree software suite v. 3.0 includes two flagship urban forest analysis tools & three utility programs.
- i-Tree Eco provides a broad picture of the entire urban forest. It is designed to use field data from randomly located plots throughout a community along with local hourly air pollution & meteorological data to quantify urban forest structure, environmental effects, & value to communities.
- i-Tree Streets focuses on the ecosystem services & structure of a municipality’s street tree population. It makes use of a sample or complete inventory to quantify & put a dollar value on the trees’ annual environmental & aesthetic benefits, including energy conservation, air quality improvement, carbon dioxide reduction, stormwater control, & property value increases.
- i-Tree Species Selector is a free-standing utility designed to help urban foresters select the most appropriate tree species based on environmental function & geographic area.
- i-Tree Storm helps you to assess widespread community damage in a simple, credible, & efficient manner immediately after a severe storm. It is adaptable to various community types & sizes & provides information on the time & funds needed to mitigate storm damage.
- i-Tree Vue (Beta) allows you to make use of freely available national land cover data maps to assess your community’s land cover, including tree canopy, & some of the ecosystem services provided by your current urban forest. The effects of planting scenarios on future benefits can also be modelled.”
To access the i-tree software program, go to – www.itreetools.org
The instruction manuals can be downloaded here – http://www.itreetools.org/resources/manuals.php
There is another free computer modeling program developed by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service in the late 1990s called Urban Forest Effects or UFORE. UFORE calculates the structure & environmental effects of the urban forest as well as the dollar value of the urban forest. http://www.ufore.org/
Then there is STRATUM designed by the US Forest Service & released in 2005 -
“STRATUM is a new street tree management & analysis tool for urban forest managers that uses tree inventory data to quantify the dollar value of annual environmental & aesthetic benefits: energy conservation, air quality improvement, CO2 reduction, stormwater control, & property value increase. It’s an easy to use, computer-based program. It allows any community to conduct a street tree inventory. The baseline data provided can be used to effectively manage the resource, develop policy & set priorities. Using a sample or an existing inventory of street trees, this software allows managers to evaluate current benefits, costs, & management needs.”
The New York City Parks Department used STRATUM to value their 600,000 street trees at US$122 million. This was 5 times the value of yearly maintenance. The City of Pittsburgh calculated in 2005 that it received US$2.94 in benefits for every US$1 sent on its urban forest. The monetary benefit would likely have increased because, as trees grow, their benefits across all areas increase. For example, a tree with a 76 cm-diameter removes 70 times more pollution per year than does a tree with a 7.5 cm diameter trunk. Around 1.5 tons of CO2 are sequestered from the air & stored for every ton of new wood that grows.
CITYGreen, is another program. CITYGreen analyzes the ecological & economic value of trees in relationship to storm water management, energy conservation, carbon storage & air pollution. This desktop GIS software package requires a tree inventory as well as baseline data for each tree & the area, including impervious surfaces.
GIS-based Trans-Agency Resources for Environmental & Economic Sustainability (T.R.E.E.S.) developed by Treepeople in Los Angles focuses not only on trees, but ecological stormwater management.
There are other urban forest software programs but these 5 give an idea of what is out there. Urban forest computer assessment tools are a relatively recent development. Trees are being recognised as much more valuable than was realized in the past.
City planners & local governments are recognizing the many benefits of the urban forest. This in turn will mean more trees will planted in the right place, looked after & not just planted in poor conditions & left to fend for themselves. It will also mean that biophysical hazards as a result of urbanization, such as air, ground & water pollution, the Urban Heat Island Effect, carbon sequestration & storage & flash flooding will be managed in a sustainable manner.
Instead of trees being seen as just trees or even worse, pests that can be hacked into or removed at a whim, they will finally be recognized as the very valuable resources that they really are. That an increased canopy saves money for Councils will also be recognized & trees will be protected. Hopefully, this will also mean the deliberate increasing of not only the urban forest, but the planting or larger, shade producing trees as a preference, not just small trees that have limited value.
The Cooks River pathway further on from Mackey Park has 2 stunning avenues of Poplar trees. Poplars are also used to great effect in Steele Park further along the river.
These trees are very beautiful. They create significant areas of dappled shade in summer & lose their leaves in autumn letting in the winter light. The trunks of some of the bigger trees behind Mackey Park are around 3-4 metres. These are big substantial trees that are a landmark to this area & can be seen from many locations along the river.
In my opinion the presence of these trees makes this section of the Cooks River pathway in Marrickville South really lovely. When the wind is blowing the sound created as the wind passes through the leaves is very special.
These trees are being considered for the chopping block because there is belowground infrastructure here & because the soil is poor. I don’t know enough about the issues to present an argument at this stage. Just be aware that Council is thinking of removing them.
Unfortunately 1 of the smaller trees dropped a branch last November 2010. Borers had literally shredded the inside of the trunk until it was unable to maintain its weight & dropped. What is left is around 1.5 metres of remaining branch extending from the trunk. No one would know if the borers have travelled that far unless they removed the branch at the point where it connects to the trunk.
I don’t think Marrickville Council is going to bother to check this out as I was told the tree will be chopped down. If a tree has borers in its trunk it is dangerous because it will do exactly as the branch did & fall. However, there is a significant chance that the borers haven’t reached that far.
I put up a YouTube video of this tree when the branch & evidence of borers was still available to see. Unfortunately, I have deleted the video & Council has taken away the branch so I cannot re-film it. However, a Arborist did manage to see the video before it went to its grave & pointed out to me that it is quite likely that the trunk itself does not have borer infestation. He said checking is easy to do & chopping off the offending branch is far cheaper than chopping down a whole tree.
I would suggest that Marrickville Council does not want to bother doing this because they think many of the older trees need to be removed & because they are thinking about removing this avenue of trees in time anyway. With this plan, they wouldn’t try to save a tree even if it was a simple thing to do.
I firmly believe that we need to keep our older & larger trees. They are very valuable on many fronts. A Councillor recently said they are “a written asset, not a real asset”. I disagree. They a valuable asset. As an example of the dollar value of trees, the 14 Laman Street Figs in Newcastle were valued at 1 million dollars. In England & the US trees are valued, & basically, the older they get, the more they are worth. It’s time we stopped thinking of trees as expendable infrastructure & start doing whatever we can to care for them to ensure their longevity.
With climate change bearing down on us, I believe we cannot afford to remove the very things that all the experts believe are what will help mitigate global warming. Aside from the craziness of removing a healthy tree because it is not a native, these trees are beautiful. I have asked many people what they think of them over the last few weeks & everyone I have spoken with loves them. I am not alone then & I suspect the community may have something to say against their removal.
I would like Marrickville Council to leave these trees alone. I do not believe planting native trees here will be a better choice. I also think Council should check the branch to see if borers have reached the trunk. Of course if they have reached the trunk, the tree should go. However, in the past when trees were saved as a norm, the Tree Surgeon, as Arborists were known then, would scrape out the infestation providing it was small enough, then fill the hole with what I as a kid called tree cement. It’s not the correct term, but you get the idea. A number of the Pines at Brighton le Sands have had work like this done. Rockdale Council obviously thinks these trees are special. It all depends on the motivation of Marrickville Council. If they don’t want the tree, they will go for the easiest option & chop the tree down.
The UN has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests. These trees are part of our urban forest.
A while ago I wrote about an idea I had for Marrickville Council to start an Adopt a Tree program to encourage people to take care of the street tree out front. I have also written about other ideas to increase & look after the urban forest in Marrickville LGA. These have been collected in the following page – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/tree-planting-ideas/
When I posted these ideas I had some anxiety as to whether I was asking too much of the community & whether the community would even consider taking part if such programs were in place.
Yesterday, to my delight, I discovered that Randwick City Council has a program that goes much further than what I thought about & asks a whole lot more from the community. They instigated an Adopt a Street Tree Program. The following is directly from their brochure:
This program provides residents with the information they require should they wish to personally contribute in a practical way to the long-term maintenance of newly planted street trees. By ‘adopting’ a street tree, residents voluntarily take on the role of not only watering a street tree, but also regularly inspecting it for pests & diseases & informing the Council of acts of vandalism or other problems. http://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/Looking_after_our_environment/Greening_our_city/Trees/
Randwick City Council also prunes trees when needed & ask residents to notify them if they think a street tree needs pruning. I have written a couple of times that I think dead or dying branches of street trees could be pruned before they fall as this is a normal cycle for trees. I think in Marrickville LGA, if a street tree drops branches, they are marked as dangerous trees & put on the death-row list.
I tend to write about trees as issues come up & then research the issue. This approach works for me because the urban forest is a big subject & any research generally has to be specific. Today I Googled ‘Adopt a Tree Programs’ & found that this is being done by a number of Municipal Councils in Australia & overseas.
Some examples follow. I have quoted directly from their website & bolded particular points because they impress me.
The City of Stonnington, Inner city Melbourne. Residents in streets where trees are 3 to 6 years of age are being asked to adopt the tree in front of their home & by doing so commit to watering it twice a week with recycled water. http://www.stonnington.vic.gov.au/www/html/4578-adopt-a-tree-program.asp
The City of Port Phillip Melbourne. By simply adopting a tree in your street or neighbourhood, & watering it weekly, you will help to save the trees within the city from the ravages of drought. …. the Port Phillip Council is giving away Free Buckets which can be collected from any of the locations provided onsite. http://www.freestuff.com.au/gardening-products/port-phillip-adopt-a-tree-and-get-a-free-bucket
The City of Marion, Sturt South Australia. People who register will receive a free watering bucket & detailed tree care instructions. Watering a tree outside your home once or twice a week will help preserve one of the city’s most important natural resources. http://www.marion.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=556
Moonee Valley City Council. Launched in 2006, the Adopt a Tree program invites residents to care for a street tree during this period of dwindling water supplies. Parents of adopted trees will get an official adoption certificate, a bucket & a litre of environmentally-friendly laundry liquid.
Torres Shire Council. A special “Adopt A Tree” award category has been included in our 2010 Torres Shire Garden Awards that will be held in June this year. http://www.torres.qld.gov.au/news/2010/adoptatree.shtml
Wollongong City Council. Since its State pilot in Wollongong during 2003… Other residents interested in planting more native trees in their own yards can take advantage of Council’s Greenplan which offers 5 trees for $15.
The City of Unley South Australia. Currently the Council provides a bucket and fact sheet to residents when a new street tree is planted. The fact sheet provides some detail as to how the resident can assist by watering the tree in its formative years. Part of the strategy relates to Unley’s street trees, & includes a recommendation that the Council launch an Adopt a Tree program.
Also of interest in the City of Unley papers regarding street trees was:
The economic value of trees is derived from:
- Their association with reduced energy consumption (a well placed shade tree can reduce consumption by up to 30%)
- Contribution to property values (trees in the metropolitan area contribute 13-20% of property value), & potential for contributing to higher profits for businesses.
- The monetary value of Unley’s 22,000 street trees is estimated at approximately $150.2 M (Burnley Method). To remove a tree costs on average $1000, and to replace costs $200.
The University of Melbourne. Although the University of Melbourne is not a Council, I have included them here as their Adopt a Tree Program assists Melbourne Councils.
Many trees have dropped their scorched leaves from the extreme drought & this summer & many are under stress from a lack of water. The local councils cannot save every tree as they are under-resourced & under water restrictions themselves. The City of Melbourne, for example, has over 60,000 trees to care for & they need our help as a community by contributing our own grey water to help water our beautiful trees. http://www.sustainablemelbourne.com/movements/adopt-a-tree-in-melbourne-share-the-idea-around/
I wish Marrickville Council would follow these other Councils & set up an Adopt a Tree Program. It may not take off immediately, but it may prove popular. Needless to say, all programs need time for the community to get to know about & decide to get involved.
Even if it did only amount to a couple of hundred households/businesses participating during the first couple of years, at least 200 trees or more a year could be helped to survive. This is significant, as Council plants up to 500 trees a year.
Community tree preservation groups Save Our Figs Wauchope & Save Our Figs Group have a big fight on their hands with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council who intend to remove 13 Fig trees in the town centre “to prevent future damage to private property & public infrastructure.” The roots of the Fig trees are presenting a trip hazard & 3 residents have complained of damage to their property they say was caused by the trees.
Thing is, the Council have just completed major works on the streets with the trees described as the centerpiece. Importantly, 3 years ago the community fought to retain these trees & won.
Now the threat of litigation has reared its head & if history is anything to go by, a very small number of people are going to get their way & have the trees removed. Council can’t take the risk that people will start litigation in the future.
A couple of days ago I posted that Goondiwindi Regional Council chopped down healthy Fig trees despite community opposition. It’s the same story. Now that the trees are gone, the Council has made the decision to spend $96,000 on floating footpaths. They are doing this now because they, “understand how important these trees are to residents.”
Using floating footpaths means the trees can grow normally. There is no need to cut off or shave down roots, nor cover them in bitumen. Nor will they need to chop the trees down because of a trip hazard or damage to footpaths. Seems like sensible spending to me. Given that any large healthy tree can be worth around $100,000, spending money to keep them is a good economic decision.
The large street trees in the centre of both these towns are what bring beauty & a sense of place. The towns use their street trees as a tourist draw card. The Fig trees also provide a tangible history & are held dear by most of the community.
Take the trees away & you have substantially changed a place. Not only have you removed things that are worth a great deal of money & with 13 Figs we are talking in excess of a million dollars, but their loss will have an impact on spending in the shops. Researchers have concluded 11% more money is spent in shopping areas where there are big healthy shady trees. To their credit Port Macquarie-Hastings Council plans to replace the Figs with 11 advanced Brush Box trees.
My question is why don’t Councils or organizations take pre-emptive action on their big trees when the trees are in areas that could damage property or cause trip hazards? Ultimately it is worth the financial outlay when one considers how much these trees are worth in a monetary sense. Then there are all the other factors to take into consideration, history, place, future, community cohesion (fights like these in small towns could escalate into severe divisions), trust in the Council/organisation & stating the obvious, climate change.
Root barriers can be put in place. Sewerage & water pipes can be replaced with pipes that can’t be invaded by tree roots or re-routed & be done with the problem forever. In Canada, they use a system that allows pipes to be replaced without digging, disturbing or damaging tree roots. They use a water flushing vacuum system to remove the soil from around the roots, pipes or wires, then install the new pipes & put the soil back in.
You don’t even need to put in concrete foundations near a tree when you are building anymore. Again in Canada, they insert giant steel screw piles into the ground that are just as stable as concrete foundations & require no digging.
There is also a high-density plastic grid system that I have seen used in Sydney. Once laid over the ground the grid disperses the weight of vehicles over a larger area. The grid also prevents soil compaction, which can damage roots. Best of all, the grid allows rainwater to permeate the soil, reducing the need for irrigation & improves storm-water management. Ground cover or other plants can be grown in the spaces within the grid.
The grid also prevents soil erosion. I can see these grids used to support riverbanks & to create cement-free car parks. They could also be used to channel water into the ground near a street tree rather than be wasted by pouring down drains. There is no reason why a section of the gutter cannot be a grid.
There is also porous concrete used across City of Sydney & North Sydney Councils. Porous concrete provides a seamless surface allowing people to walk across it, but still captures any rainwater that falls on it, watering the tree.
There are quite a number of beautiful Figs in Marrickville LGA & many of them are planted near buildings. Unfortunately many of these trees live in less than perfect conditions with cement & bitumen almost to the base of their trunk. Many have cars & trucks parked right next to them. As we have seen, it is only a matter of time before branches get gouged or broken off by trucks.
The only reason why money isn’t spent on protecting trees before problems start is that trees are not held in high importance or the Council is so strapped for money that understandably, urban forest issues get moved down the list of priorities.
Many Councils do hold their trees in high esteem & look after them. They use floating footpaths & permeable rubber surfaces or permeable ‘solid’ surfaces. They put garden beds around trees to prevent or limit the amount of vehicles that can park under them. They put ‘no parking’ signs for vehicles over a certain size & weight & they do other things like prune dead branches & normal die back. They probably feed them occasionally as well.
I would do all of the above & if property damage occurred with people saying get rid of the tree/s, I would think it is the community’s & Council’s best interest to fix the damage (within reason, once proof & access has been given to Council) & put things in place to ensure the problem won’t repeat itself. Too many people & future generations miss out for cracks to walls & pipes, both which are easily fixed without costing as high as the value of losing a tree.
Trees are the only things Councils own that increase in value each year.
I have written about clay soils & how they affect buildings at – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/clay-soil/
You can read both stories at the following links -http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/news/general/lastditch-figs-effort/1874281.aspx